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The Dewey School 






* Introduction by 




1936, BY 


rights reserved,. "This book,^ or parts 
must not be reproduced in any 
permission of the publishers. 



The increasing number of progressive schools throughout the 
world shows the wide and fast growing interest on the part of 
parents and educators in an educational experience for their 
children which they do not find in schools of the more tradi- 
tional types. This interest renders an account of an early organ- 
ized experiment in progressive education suitable and timely. 

This school was a cooperative venture of parents, teachers, 
and educators, and was carried on at the University of Chicago 
during the years from 1896 to 1903. Under the direction of John 
Dewey, then head of the University's unified departments of 
Philosophy, Psychology, and Pedagogy, the undertaking grew 
out of a genuine desire to work out with children an edu- 
cational experience more creative than that provided by even 
the best of the current systems. 

The school was a laboratory for the departments of Psychol- 
ogy and Pedagogy where Mr. Dewey's educational theories and 
their sociological implications were worked out in accord with 
the then new psychological principles and in association with 
colleagues and students, the teachers in the school, and the par- 
ents of the children. It was never a "practice" school. 

The book has been called The Dewey School not because 
Mr. Dewey as its head ever exercised any of the dominance too 
often evident in a "One man's school." Rather was the title 
chosen out of gratitude to the great person who made the school 
possible by his objective and impersonal attitude of faith in 
the growing ability of every individual, whether child or 
teacher. Mr. Dewey was never dominating. His respect for the 
opinions of even the youngest and least experienced of his staff 
bore fruit in the creative character of the work done. Only a 
person who has worked in such an atmosphere can understand 
what inspiration to creative work such freedom gives. After 
all, teaching is a creative social art. Mr. Dewey's philosophy 


expressed through his personality stimulated others and re- 
leased their powers so that all who understood his point of 
view worked freely and cooperatively under his guidance. 

The subtitle of the book, The Laboratory School of the Uni- 
versity of Chicago, indicates its relation to the University, al- 
ways a source of direct and indirect help and backing. Without 
this direction from experts, the teachers, functioning creatively 
in their daily experience, would have traveled many more blind 
alleys than they did. Had this experiment been allowed to 
come to fruition, it would have presented the first example of 
a unified enterprise in education at all age levels. 

The slowly evolving curriculum of the Dewey School in both 
subject-matter and method was the result of the combined ex- 
perimental efforts of trained specialists. These chapters should 
reveal that it was scientifically developed. Great emphasis was 
given to the use of directed experimental method in all areas 
of study. The main hypothesis was that life itself, especially 
those occupations and associations which serve man's chief 
needs, should furnish the ground experience for the education 
of children. The classrooms in this laboratory school were the 
proving grounds where teachersspecialists in their subjects- 
would discover, by trying, the particular experiences that 
would enrich the child's present life, making it a growing 
process and an ever more real and satisfactory preparation for 
the future. The hypothesis was that freedom to express in 
action is a necessary condition of growth, but that guidance of 
such expression is an equally necessary condition, especially of 
childhood's freedom. Learning, a main issue to the teacher, was 
seen as a side issue to the child, a by-product of his activity. The 
test of learning was the increasing ability of the child to meet 
new situations through habits of considered action which were 
even more social in character. It was found that satisfaction 
and emotional stability accompany such growth. The develop- 
ment of the curriculum was in relation to the immediate in- 
terests of growing children and thereby revealed the chief in- 
terests of the different psychological levels of this span in their 
life development. A type of education in which there is steady 
maintenance of cooperative processes and constant use of the 


scientific principle of objective testing of ideas through action 
and evaluating the results of such action for future planning, 
has significant implications for the world ferment of the day. 

The authors were both teachers in the school. Katherine 
Camp Mayhew, as vice-principal, was in charge of the develop- 
ing curriculum; she was also head of the science department. 
Anna Camp Edwards was a teacher of history in the early ex- 
perimental period and later as a special tutor followed through 
the work of all other departments at older age levels, an expe- 
rience which has aided her in interpreting the value of 
Mr. Dewey's philosophy of education in the present crisis. 

The scope of this study was decided upon and its plan worked 
out by the authors in close consultation with Mr. Dewey, who 
has guided the entire development of the book. Throughout 
these consultations Mrs. Edwards acted as secretary and cus- 
todian of the records from which the selections used were made. 
In order that the manuscript should have literary unity, it be- 
came apparent that the composition and writing must be done 
by one of the authors. Mrs. Edwards has served in this capacity 
for all the chapters except the seventeenth. She is responsible 
for the amalgamation and editing of all the records and con- 
tributions from the various accredited sources. Mrs. Mayhew 
taught science and mathematics in the school for seven years. 
This and her wide later experience are the backgrounds of the 
seventeenth chapter and for her many invaluable contributions 
to all the other chapters of the book, especially her account of 
how the school developed the approach to history as the story 
of man's progress through invention, exploration, and dis- 

The original manuscript of this book was too large for pub- 
lication. All the chapters were reduced in size, and two chapters 
omitted from the body of the book. These two chapters, how- 
ever, have been included in the form of an appendix. The first, 
The Evolution of Mr. Dewey's Principles of Education, was 
written by Mrs. Anna Camp Edwards; the second, The Theory 
of the Chicago Experiment, by Mr. Dewey himself. 

From 1896 to 1899 extensive accounts of the experimental 
school were published in the University Record. During 1900 


the reports of the school appeared in a series of nine mono- 
graphs entitled the Elementary School Record. These were later 
bound in one volume which soon was out of print. The records 
of 1901 and 1902 consisted of typed reports and summaries care- 
fully collected and edited by Laura L. Runyon. These were 
never printed. The sources upon which the writers have drawn 
include the publications and documents mentioned above, the 
current and later writings of Mr. and Mrs. Dewey, and those of 
alumni and friends of the school. The school was deeply in- 
debted to Mrs. Alice C. Dewey for her exceptional insight in 
solving many of its problems. She also collected and preserved 
a large part of the source materials. Mrs. Dewey's death in 1927 
made impossible her plan to write the history of the school in 
collaboration with Mrs. Mayhew. Following her death, the 
authors undertook the work at Mr. Dewey's request and grate- 
fully acknowledge their debt to Mrs. Dewey. 

In the following pages much material has been taken from 
hitherto unpublished accounts of the school. The writers have 
also used extracts from published articles by the following: 
Georgia F. Bacon, Althea Harmer Bardeen, Lillian Cushman 
Brown, Hattie Hover Harding, Charles F. Harding, Katherine 
Andrews Healy, Nellie Johnson O'Conner, May Root Kern, 
Laura L. Runyon, and Katherine C. Mayhew. Special mention 
should be made of the never failing support of Mr. and Mrs. 
George H. Mead and their constant faith in the educational 
worth of the school. The first account of the undertaking, The 
School and Society, a series of three lectures on the school by 
Mr. Dewey, was edited by Mr. and Mrs. Mead, assisted by 
Katherine Camp Mayhew and Althea Harmer Bardeen. 

Appreciation is expressed to Miss Bacon, Mrs. Brown, Miss 
Runyon, Sara French Miller, D. P. MacMillan, and Mary Tough 
for counsel in the early planning of the manuscript; to Elsie 
Clapp for her suggestions in relation to the needs of teachers; 
to Harry O. Gillette for access to letters and information col- 
lected by a graduate student for an unfinished thesis and to the 
few records of the last year of the school, preserved in the pres- 
ent School of Education of the University of Chicago; to George 
W. Locke, Anna Bryan, Grace Fulmer, E. C. Moore, Frank H. 


Manny, W. A. Baldwin, and Helen Thompson Wooley; also to 
many pupils of the school, parents, former teachers, graduate 
students, and visitors at the school for their loyal support. Ap- 
preciation is also expressed to Marion Le Brun Pigman for her 
aid in the first revisions of the manuscript; to Elizabeth F. 
Camp, John L. Childs, Richard H. Edwards, Galen M. Fisher, 
Price H. Gwynn, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Paul R. Hanna, Mrs. Harriet 
Hover Harding, Mrs. Katherine Andrews Healy, and Mrs. 
William Kent for valuable suggestions on the manuscript. 
The authors are indebted to several friends and alumni of 
the school for making it possible to include a number of the 
illustrations, thus giving much added interest and value to the 
story of the experiment. 

Gratitude is due above all to Mr. Dewey for his written con- 
tributions, his permission to quote his writings freely, and for 
the generous donation of his time and thought, and to Evelyn 
Dewey (Mrs. Granville Smith, Jr.) for the final editing of the 












LUM 39 




























CATION ............ 445 


TORY SCHOOL .......... 479 

INDEX ............... 481 


John Dewey, about 1890 frontispiece 


The last home of the Dewey School, 5412 Ellis Avenue, Chicago . 8 

Gardening for the younger groups 96 

Drawing working plans for farm utensils 96 

Pooling their experience and labor to construct a larger smelter . 113 

Weaving in the textile studio 113 

A busy morning in the textile studio 160 

Girls of Group X working on the club-house 232 

The finished club-house in use (1903) 232 

Biology from an evolutionary point of view 297 

A class in cooking (Group VI, age 9 years, 1900) 305 

Finishing the heddle 320 

Painting scenery for the Columbus play 400 

John Dewey, 1935 417 



The account of the Laboratory School contained in the pages 
that follow is so adequate as to render it unnecessary for me 
to add anything to what is said about its origin, aims, and 
methods. It is, however, a grateful task to express my apprecia- 
tion of the intelligent care with which the theory and practice 
of the school have been reported. Because of their long connec- 
tion with the school, the authors have a first-hand knowledge, 
while their responsible share in the work of the school has en- 
abled them to make an authoritative statement of its underly- 
ing ideas, its development, and the details of its operation. The 
entire history of the school was marked by an unusual degree 
of cooperation among parents, teachers, and pupils. It is par- 
ticularly gratifying to have this living evidence that the coop- 
erative spirit still continues. 

My gratification is far from being merely personal. The vol- 
ume has historic interest and value, since it is a record of one 
of the earlier efforts in this country in the direction of experi- 
mental and progressive schools. But this historic interest is not 
all. This educational movement is still going on and is far from 
having reached its goal; its unsolved problems are still many. 
The book has, I think, a good deal to contribute now and here. 
It is timely as well as historical in interest. There is one point 
in particular which may be singled out for its present bearing. 
The problem of the relation between individual freedom and 
collective well-being is today urgent and acute, perhaps more 
so than at any time in the past. The problem of achieving both 
of these values without the sacrifice of either one is likely to be 
the dominant problem of civilization for many years to come. 
The schools have their part to play in working out the solution, 
and their own chief task is to create a form of community life 
and organization in which both of these values are conserved. 
The school whose work is reported in this volume was animated 


by a desire to discover in administration, selection of subject- 
matter, methods o learning, teaching, and discipline, how a 
school could become a cooperative community while develop- 
ing in individuals their own capacities and satisfying their own 
needs. I am sure the present value of the volume is not ex- 
hausted in its account of this phase of the school's life. But the 
present importance of the issue emboldens me to believe that 
it is especially timely at the present juncture. 






following pages tell the story of one of the earliest ex- 
periments in what later came to be known as progressive educo^ 
tion. This experiment was an integral part of the University of 
Chicago during the years 1896 to 1904, and was an undertaking 
which aimed to work put, through the University, a school 
system which should be an organic whole from the kindergarten 
to the university. Conducted under the management and super- 
vision of the University's Department of Philosophy, Psychol- 
ogy, and Education, it bore the same relation to the work of that 
department that a laboratory bears to biology, physics, or chem- 
istry. Like any such laboratory it had two main purposes: (i) 
to exhibit, test, verify, and criticize theoretical statements and 
principles; and (2) to add to the sum of facts and principles 
in its special line. In consequence, it was often called the 
Laboratory School. The name is significant. John Dewey, when 
called to be the head of the department in 1894, had arrived 
at certain philosophical and psychological ideas which he de- 
sired to test in practical application. This desire was not merely 
personal, but flowed from the very nature of the ideas them- 
selves. For it was part of the philosophical and psychological 
theory he entertained that ideas, even as ideas, are incomplete 
and tentative until they are employed in application to objects 
in action and are thus developed, corrected, and tested. The 
need of a laboratory was indicated. Moreover, the inclusive 
scope of the ideas in question demanded something more than 
a laboratory of experimentation in its restricted technical sense. 
The materials with which they dealt were the continuing de- 
velopment of human beings in knowledge, understanding, and 
character. A school was the answer to the need. 



During the years at Chicago, Mr. Dewey's thought along 
these lines was greatly stimulated and enriched. One of the 
important influences affecting the distinct advance in the 
psychological formulations of this period was the cooperative 
thinking and pooled results of a close-knit group of colleagues, 
all concentrating under one leadership. James R. Angell was 
then working out his ideas of functional psychology. George 
H. Mead, who earlier had been a colleague of Mr. Dewey's at 
the University of Michigan, was developing the psychology 
of the act on the basis of wide biological knowledge, and James 
H. Tufts collaborated with Mr. Dewey in a course for the 
parents of the school. These men and others in related depart- 
ments of the University made up a united and enthusiastic 
group of investigators and teachers. 

Mr. Dewey's thinking was further supplemented by the work 
of the various study clubs of which he was a member and the 
groups of graduate and undergraduate students under his direc- 
tion. He early joined the Illinois Society for Child Study, which 
included among its members many able educators. In the trans- 
actions of this society, which were being watched and com- 
mented upon by leaders in psychological thinking, Mr. Dewey 
took an active part. A number of his earliest statements were 
published by this organization and by the newly organized 
National Herbart Society. 

As a result of all this original and cooperative effort, there 
were gradually built up the psychological and sociological prin- 
ciples, which, together with their many implications, form the 
basis of Mr. Dewey's theory of education. Statements of these 
appeared from time to time in various periodicals and in other 
forms. 1 

i This selected list of statements published at the time contains the 
essential elements in Mr. Dewey's philosophy of education: (i) "The Re- 
sults of Child-Study Applied to Education," Transactions of the Illinois 
Society for Child Study, January, 1895; (a) "Interest as Related to Will," 
in National Herbart Society, Second Supplement to the Herbart Yearbook 
for 1895; (3) "The Reflex-Arc Concept in Psychology," Psychological Re- 
view, July, 1896; (4) "Pedagogy as a University Discipline," University 
(of Chicago) Record, September, 1896; (5) "Ethical Principles Underlying 
Education," in National Herbart Society, Third Yearbook (Chicago, 1897); 


Many of the interested group and their friends were parents, 
and the idea of a school which should test in practice these 
newly stated principles of education grew out of their desire 
that their own children should experience this kind of school- 
ing. The ideas of the group were formulated by Mr. Dewey 
in a privately printed brochure, "Plan of Organization of the 
University Primary School." This plan as summarized by Mr. 
Dewey follows. 2 

"Because of the idea that human intelligence developed in 
connection with the needs and opportunities of action, the core 
of school activity was to be found in occupations, rather than 
in what are conventionally termed studies. Study in the sense 
of inquiry and its outcome in gathering and retention of in- 
formation was to be an outgrowth of the pursuit of certain 
continuing or consecutive occupational activities. Since the 
development of the intelligence and knowledge of mankind 
has been a cooperative matter, and culture, in its broadest 
sense, a collective creation, occupations were to be selected 
which related those engaged in them to the basic needs of 
developing life, and demanded cooperation, division of work, 
and constant intellectual exchange by means of mutual com- 
munication and record. Since the integration of the individual 
and the social is impossible except when the individual lives 
in close association with others in the constant free give and 
take of experiences, it seemed that education could prepare 
the young for the future social life only when the school was 
itself a cooperative society on a small scale. Therefore, the 
first factor in bringing about the desired coordination of these 
occupations was the establishment of the school itself as a 
form of community life. 

"The primary skills, in reading, writing, and numbers, were 
to grow out of the needs and the results of activities. More- 
over, since basic occupations involve relations to the materials 
and forces of nature, just as the processes of living together 

(6) "Principles of Mental Development as Illustrated in Early Infancy," 
Transactions of the Illinois Society for Child Study, October, 1899; (7) The 
School and Society (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1899). 
2 John Dewey. Written for the Authors. 


involve social invention, organization, and establishment of 
human bonds, making the development of individuals secure 
and progressive, knowledge was to grow out of the active con- 
tact with things and energies inherent in consecutive activities. 
History, for instance, was to be a deepening and an extension 
of the process of human invention and integration. The de- 
velopment of character and the management of what is or- 
dinarily called discipline, were to be, as far as possible, the 
outgrowth of a shared community life in which teachers were 
guides and leaders. The substratum of the educative process 
was thus to develop from the idea that the young have native 
needs and native tendencies of curiosity, love of active occupa- 
tion, and desire for association and mutual exchange which 
provide the intrinsic leverage for educative growth in knowl- 
edge, understanding, and conduct 

"The significance of these principles for the educational ex- 
periment that was undertaken can best be gathered from the 
account of the actual life of the school. The controlling aim 
of the school was not the aim of present progressive education. 
It was to discover and apply the principles that govern all hu- 
man development that is truly educative, to utilize the methods 
by which mankind has collectively and progressively advanced 
in skill, understanding, and associated life. 

"The basic principle necessarily demanded a very consider- 
able break with the aims, methods, and materials familiar in the 
traditional school. It involved departure from the conception 
that, in the main, the proper materials and methods of educa- 
tion are already well-known and need only to be furthered, 
refined, and extended. It implied continual experimentation 
to discover the conditions under which educative growth actu- 
ally occurs. It implied also much more attention to present 
conditions in the life of individuals, children, and contem- 
porary society than was current in schools based chiefly upon 
the attainments of the past^t^mvolved the substitution of an 
active attitude of work and play and of inquiry for the pro- 
cesses of imposition and passive absorption of ready-made 
knowledge and preformed skills that largely dominated the 
traditional school. It implied a much larger degree of op- 


portunity for initiative, discovery, and independent communi- 
cation of intellectual freedom than was characteristic of the 
traditional school^) 


"Thus the nai^e J^&oratory. School (originally suggested by 
Ella Flagg Young), gives a Jkey^to. the work _Q! the. school. A 
laboratory-is, as ., the implies, a place for activity, for 1 
work, for the consecutive carrying on of an occupation and 
in the case of education the occupation must be inclusive of 
all fundamental human values. A laboratory also implies di- 
rective ideas, leading hypotheses that, as they are applied, 
lead to new understandings. It demands also workers, who with- 
out being enslaved to the past, are acquainted with achieve- 
ments of the past in science and^arkjand who are possessed of 
the best skills that have been worked out by the cooperative 
efforts of human beings. Like every human enterprise the 
Laboratory School came far short of achieving its ideal and 
putting its controlling ideas into successful" 'operation. But 
some knowledge as to what the ideals and ideas were is neces- 
sary to give unity and coherence to an account of its detailed 

The practical difficulties of creating a new school as com- 
pared with the formulation of theoretical principles were 
recognized from the start. The idea of education as growth 
was new. Since growth is the characteristic of all life, education 
is all one with growing; it has no end beyond itself; it goes 
on during the whole life span of the individual; it is the result 
of the constant adjustment of the individual to his physical 
and social environment which is thus both used and modified 
to supply his needs and those of his social groups. All these 
new theoretical statements presented practical difficulties. 
There were no precedents for this type of schooling to follow, 
and there was need to study the growing child in relation to 
his environment and to experiment with subject-matter and 
method to find what ministered best to his growth. 

With faith in the soundness of the experimental approach 
to education that should test in practice the value of the 
theory, the school opened in January, 1896, in a private dwell- 
ing with sixteen pupils and two persons in charge. The first 


six months was a "trial-and-error" period and was chiefly in- 
dicative of what not to do. The school reopened on a new basis 
in October, 1896, at 5718 Kimbark Avenue with thirty-two 
children ranging in age from six to eleven and a staff of three 
regular teachers, one in charge of science and the domestic 
arts, one of literature and history, and one of manual training. 
A part-time instructor in music was also on the staff, and three 
graduate students gave all or part of their time to the school. 
The school continued at these headquarters until January, 
1897, when, owing to inadequate space, it removed to the old 
South Park Club House, at the corner of Rosalie Court and 
57th Street. The number of teachers was increased and new 
pupilfiL-were received, making the enrolment forty-five. 

By December, 1897, the staff of teachers had grown to six- 
teen, the children numbered sixty, and the school again faced 
the need of larger quarters. In October, 1898, the school opened 
in an old residence at 5412 Ellis Avenue. At this time the 
school took on its subsequent departmental form, thus har- 
monizing with the University. A sub-primary department was 
added to include children of four and five. Eighty-two children 
were enrolled. New quarters included a gymnasium and manual 
training rooms in a barn connected with the house by a covered 
way. Art and textile rooms occupied the large attic rooms. 
The science department had two laboratories, one for combined 
physics and chemistry, and one for biology. The history depart- 
ment shared three special rooms with the English department. 
Domestic science now had a kitchen large enough for two 
groups to work together and two dining rooms properly 
equipped for serving. 

In these quarters the school entered upon another stage of 
its history. The experience of two years and a half of success 
and failure afforded a basis out of which there grew an ever 
developing curriculum. Through the years 1900, 1901, and 
1905 the school continued to increase in numbers until it 
reached a maximum of one hundred and forty children. The 
teaching staff increased to twenty-three teachers and instructors 
with about ten assistants (graduate students of the University). 
With its increase in size the organization of the teaching staff 




had become more formal in character. Mr. Dewey continued 
as Director, and Ella Flagg Young of the Department of Educa- 
tion was Supervisor of Instruction. Mrs. Dewey's previous in- 
formal connection now became official as principal of the 
school. She was also director of the Department of English 
and literature, and had general oversight of the language ex- 
pression of the schpol. The relationship with the University 
continued as before, insuring stability and continuity to the 
work, as well as providing the advantages of expert advice, 
planning, and supervision of instruction. 

The administration of the school was, particularly in its 
formative years, so much a matter of the cooperation of those 
directing and teaching that it is difficult to say where executive 
or administrative responsibilities ended and those of teaching 
began. As head of the Department of Pedagogy, Mr. Dewey 
was at all times head of the Laboratory School; but for the first 
three years of its existence the various administrative duties fell 
in great part to members of the teaching staff, were informally 
determined in conference with the director, and shifted 
constantly to meet temporary exigencies and changing needs. 
The teaching staff in these years, therefore, was the administra- 
tive, with the exception of certain administrative functions, 
chiefly financial, which were carried out by the University 
Department of Pedagogy. In later years when the greatly in- 
creased staff necessitated a more formal organization, the school 
was departmentalized, and while the administrative staff was 
still composed of teachers, a division of responsibility was made. 
One, as principal, took charge of all contacts with parents, 
graduate student-teachers, and visitors, and one, as vice- 
principal, continued to assume responsibility for the curricu- 
lum. At this time also, a supervisor from the Department of 
Pedagogy of the University was added to the staff. She also 
conducted classes with the pedagogical students working in the 
school and doing laboratory work as assistants, 8 where the prin- 

* Principal and director of history, Georgia Bacon, 1900-1901; principal 
and director of the language instruction, Alice Chipman Dewey, 1901- 
1903; vice-principal and director of science, Katherine Camp; supervisor, 
Ella Flagg Young. 


ciples and practices of the school were discussed and related. 
The early meetings, of the experimental years, however, being 
smaller, had included, in addition to the teachers, all of the 
Fellows, and most of the students and instructors in the Uni- 
versity's Department of Pedagogy. 

In retrospect, the cooperation of the many departments of 
the University, particularly in all forms of science is acknowl- 
edged with gratitude. Heads of these departments, as well as 
individual staff members, were generous with their time and 
facilities. In addition to this whole-hearted aid in material 
ways, intellectual resources were freely put at the disposal of 
the teachers. Of immeasurable, stabilizing value was the re- 
lationship to the University. As the laboratory of the Depart- 
ment of Pedagogy, the school shared widi the other laboratories 
of the University die benefits of such intimate relationship. 
This gave an easy accessibility for teachers desiring it to many 
scientists who were, or since have become, leaders of thought 
and accomplishment in their various fields. Many of these 
men had, in addition to special attainments, unusual pedagogi- 
cal interests which led to their giving constant intellectual 
and material help to the teachers of the school. 4 

As time went on, it became clear that this experiment in 
education required also experimental administrative methods. 
A school that was a social institution modeled after the or- 
ganization of an ideal home required a special arrangement 
and organization of its directing factors. Instead of a group of 

* Perhaps the University of Chicago possessed in the beginning many 
more scientists later to achieve international distinction than had been 
gathered together in any other new university. At that time Thomas G. 
Chamberlain was elaborating his planetesimal theory of the origin of 
the solar system and came to talk about it to the children. John M. Coulter 
planned and guided the experiments on plant relations. Others who co- 
operated were Charles O. Whitman in zoology, Jacques Loeb in physiology, 
W. I. Thomas and George Vincent in sociology, Frederick Starr in anthro- 
pology, Rollin D. Salisbury in geography, Albert A Michelson in physics, 
Alexander Smith in chemistry, and Henry C. Cowles in ecology. The 
school was indebted to numerous persons in other departments of the 
University especially to Mr. and Mrs. William D. MacClintock, to G. E. 
Hale, Wallace Atwood, and to the members of Mr. Dewey's departments 
for continuous cooperation particularly to George H. Mead, James H. 
Tufts, and James R. Angell. 


persons who planned on paper a program which they then 
required a staff of teachers to teach to the pupils, these experi- 
menters were confronted with a different problem. The aid 
of the teachers (as well as of the pupils) was a fundamental 
and primary requisite to even the theoretical formulation of 
an educative program. Plainly, therefore, all three factors, 
administrators, teachers, pupils, must share in the functions 
of managing and executing the teacher-learning process. In- 
deed, such an experiment in education as this could not go on 
except through a group of persons all of whom were intel- 
lectually and socially cooperating in a constantly developing 
educational plan. In such an endeavor the parents of the chil- 
dren were also factors, whose help was essential in countless 
ways for the successful accomplishment of the experiment. 
The focus of all this cooperative endeavor was- the child his 
physical and mental growth in a well-balanced and, therefore, 
happy fashion. Along many lines of approach help and sug- 
gestion flowed in and were integrated and correlated by the 
child's activities. At the request of the authors, Mr. Dewey has 
recently made the following comment on the relation of the 
theory to the practice in the actual working out of the school. 

"In dealing with principles underlying school activities, it 
is easy, especially after a lapse of years, to read into a statement 
of them what one has learned in subsequent experience. An- 
other danger more serious and more difficult to avoid lies in 
the gap between any formal statement of principles and ideals 
and the way things work out in actual practice; in the tempta- 
tion to idealize the latter by assuming a greater conformity 
with theoretical principles than is attained. The concrete cir- 
cumstances of school life introduce many factors that are not 
foreseen and taken account of in theory. This is as formal and 
static as the life of teachers and children in school is moving 
and vital. 

"The principles stated were not intended to serve as definite 
rules for what was done in the school. They furnished a point 
of View and indicated the direction in which it was to move. 
Not merely the concrete material, the subject matter of the 
pupils' studies, but the methods of teaching were developed 


in the course of the school's own operations. This development 
signifies, of course, that the experience of one year taught 
something about what was to be done the next year and how 
it was to be better done. But it also meant something more 
than this, material and methods which worked with one group 
of children would not give the same results with another group 
of supposedly about the same attainments and capacities, and 
quite radical changes would have to be introduced in the actual 
process of teaching." 

The school always faced a serious financial situation. In five 
years it had outgrown three buildings, none of which had been 
adequately equipped. Because tuition fees had been kept low 5 
for the sake of the parents who might otherwise have coveted 
in vain such an education for their children, there had been 
a yearly deficit. Each year, however, this deficit had been met 
by the parents and friends,' staunch supporters of the school 
who had caught a vision of its worth and meaning for their 
own and other children. At the beginning the University as- 
sured Mr. Dewey only the sum of $1,000 to cover the initial 
expense. This sum, moreover, was not in cash but in tuitions 
of graduate students who were to teach in the school. At the 
end of the first six months the generous gift of $1,200 by 
Mrs. Charles R. Linn enabled the school to begin anew in the 
fall of 1896 with a staff of three teachers. In the years following 
funds to cover the deficit were forthcoming from the loyal 
group of parents and friends. 

In 1902, the Chicago Institute (formerly the Cook County 
Normal School of Chicago) heavily endowed by Mrs. Emmons 
Blaine, and the University of Chicago consummated a plan 
whereby the former became incorporated with the University. 
Two other schools had been included in the merger, the 
Chicago Manual Training School and the South Side Academy. 
The Chicago Institute was primarily a school for training 
teachers and was under the leadership of Colonel Francis W. 

* Tuition paid in 1901-2 was as follows: for children from four to 
six years, $75.00 per year; for older children attending the forenoon session 
only, $90.00 per year; for children attending the afternoon session also, 
$105.00 per year. 


Parker. The faculty of the Institute numbered thirty-five per- 
sons. There were about one hundred students in the pedagogi- 
cal and one hundred and twenty in the academic departments, 
one of which was an elementary school and kindergarten. The 
University accordingly found itself possessing two elementary 
schools. One, a practice school for the training of teachers 
under the leadership of Colonel Parker, was heavily endowed. 
The other, the Laboratory School of the University's Depart- 
ment of Pedagogy directed by Mr. Dewey, had no endowment, 
but had been, even then, characterized as one of the "greatest 
experiments in education ever carried on." Both schools were 
progressive; both had made outstanding contributions to the 
principles and practice of education. But while similar in 
these larger aspects of general purpose, the two schools differed 
rather widely in theory, method, and practice. 

For the solution of the problem thus presented, various plans 
,had been discussed by the President and Trustees of the Uni- 
versity. Of these, two plans only seemed feasible. The first was 
to continue both schools as separate organizations; one, the 
Dewey School, to be a laboratory of the Department of Pedagogy 
of the University, the other to be a practice school for the 
training of elementary teachers. The difficulty, which seemed 
to make this plan impracticable, was the lack of endowment 
for the Dewey School. The only solution, apparently, was the 
second plan merging the two schools. It had also been pro- 
posed that if the two elementary schools were merged, a new 
secondary school should be formed by combining the South 
Side Academy and the Chicago Manual Training School. 
Mr. Dewey was to be head of this secondary school, and it was 
to be regarded as part of the University's Department of 
Pedagogy so long as Mr. Dewey remained in charge of that 
Department. At the same time this secondary school was to be 
carried on in connection with the transplanted Chicago In- 

The President and his Committee of Administrators, not 
having followed closely the development of the Laboratory 
School, made a serious error of judgment in supposing that 
the plan of merging the two elementary schools, so different in 


theory and method, would seem advisable or welcome to the 
parents, teachers, or administrators of the Dewey School. All 
parents, teachers, and administrators were in accord in their 
opinions that both schools would suffer from such procedure, 
and that the Dewey School, being the smaller, and bereft of 
its leader, would be swallowed up and lost in the larger school. 
Therefore, after much discussion and planning, they secured 
the permission of the University authorities to continue the 
school separately, under the official name of the Laboratory 
School of the University of Chicago, provided they could raise 
and guarantee to the University for the space of three years 
the sum of $5,000 annually. A committee of parents, fired with 
zeal to save the school, raised this amount in a comparatively 
short time with pledges for the years to come, and for one 
year longer the school continued at the same place and under 
the same administration as before. 

During this year (1903), however, Colonel Parker died, and 
negotiations for the amalgamation of the two schools were 
again resumed and finally consummated. Mr. Dewey accepted 
the directorship of the School of Education with his under- 
standing that the regular teaching and administrative staff of 
the Laboratory School was to be taken over by the School of 
Education and was to continue in office indefinitely. The 
Laboratory School accordingly moved into the newly com- 
pleted School of Education building in the fall of 1903, and 
the School of Education then became the united faculties, 
students, and administration of four schools, The Chicago 
Institute, The Chicago Manual Training School, The Uni- 
versity of Chicago Laboratory School, and the South Side 

It seems fitting at this point to quote briefly an address by 
Mr. Dewey on the occasion of the first combined meeting of 
the parents of the four schools which had joined forces to 
become the School of Education. Upon the background of die 
history of these four schools, he states the ideal of the School 
of Education as he conceived it: 6 

e John Dewey, "Significance of the School of Education," The Elementary 
School Teacher f March, 1904. 


"The significance of the School of Education, put in terms of 
its origin, lies in the bringing together of all factors of the 
educational problem. ... It now incarnates in itself all the 
elements which constitute the theoretical educational problem 
of the present. In other words, we have right here in concrete, 
actual institutional form all the factors which any writer on 
education of the present day would lay down as involved in the 
problem of education. We have the so-called practical and 
utilitarian element. This comes not merely from the Chicago 
Manual Training School, but from the stress laid from the 
first in the Cook County Normal School (Chicago Institute) 
upon manual training, and the important place given in the 
Laboratory School to social occupations. Thus the motor, die 
executive side of the individual is appealed to. The School of 
Education recognizes that an "all-around education" is a mere 
name if it leaves out of account direct interest in seeing things 
and in doing things. The so-called practical and utilitarian 
factor is thus here not an isolated and independent thing, but 
the utilization of an otherwise wasted (and hence perverted) 
source of energy. But the School also stands for the most 
thorough-going recognition of the importance of scientific and 
cultural elements in education. Moreover, the School stands 
for these things, not merely within its own structure, but 
through the training of teachers and the promulgation of sound 
educational theory for educational progress and reform far 
beyond itself. . . . To have initiated these distinct and in- 
dependent portions of an educational system represented here, 
was a great achievement. To stop here, not to recognize the 
growth that may come from their fusing into a vital whole, 
would be a calamity all the greater because of what has been 
achieved in the past. . . . 

"Such growth can only come as a result of the cooperative 
effort of teachers, parents, and children. There is one kind of 
coeducation to which no one takes objections one which is 
absolutely indispensable if the future of the school is to be 
as significant as its own past exacts of it. This coeducation of 
teachers, children, and parents by one another. I say by one 
another rather than with one another, for I think that coeduca- 


tion is not the passive reception of the same instruction side 
by side, but the active participation in the education of one 
by others. If the School is to move along steadily and as a 
whole within itself, it must be because it moves along with a 
body of parents who have intrusted their children to it, and 
because in turn the parents move along sympathetically with 
the endeavors, experiments, and changes of the school it- 
self. . . . 

"In spite of all the advances that have been made through- 
out the country, there is still one unsolved problem in ele- 
mentary and secondary education. That is the question of duly 
adapting to each other the practical and utilitarian, the ex- 
ecutive and the abstract, the tool and the book, the head and 
the hand. This is a problem of such vast scope that any 
systematic attempt to deal with it must have great influence 
upon the whole course of education everywhere. The School of 
Education, both in its elementary and secondary departments, 
is trying to make its contribution to this vexed question. Utility 
and culture, absorption and expression, theory and practice, 
are indispensable elements in any educational scheme. But, as 
a rule, they are pursued apart. As already indicated, the dif- 
ferent schools which have entered into combination here make 
it necessary for the School of Education to fuse hitherto sep- 
arated factors. In this attempt we shall need your sympathetic 
intelligence. . . . 

"In the second place, I wish to enlist your sympathy with the 
social ideals and spirit which must prevail in the School of 
Education, if it is to be true to its own past. We trust, and 
shall continue to trust, to the social spirit as the ultimate and 
controlling motive in discipline. We believe, and our past ex- 
perience warrants us in the belief, that a higher, more effective, 
more truly severe type of personal discipline and government 
may be secured through appeal to the social motives and in- 
terests of children and youth than to their antisocial ones. . . . 
It must be possible on some other basis to secure and main- 
tain a wholesome social and moral spirit in the school. It can- 
not be too definitely stated that it is only to this class that the 


School of Education wants to appeal for members of its stu- 
dent body. . . . The moral and social influence which the 
members of the student body exert upon each other is far more 
potent for good in the long run than any device that teachers 
can set up and keep going; and the presence or absence of this 
influence must go back largely to home influences and sur- 

"The School of Education wishes particularly, then, the co- 
operation of parents in creating a healthy moral tone which 
will render quite unnecessary resort to lower and more un- 
worthy motives for regulating conduct, in the cultivation of a 
democratic tone, an esprit-de-corps, which attaches itself to the 
social life of the school as a whole, and not to some clique 
or set in it, ... May we remind you that a school has a 
corporate life of its own; that, whether for good or bad, it 
is itself a genuine social institution a community. The in- 
fluences which center in and radiate from this corporate social 
life are infinitely more important with respect to the moral 
development of your children than is simply class-room in- 
struction in the abstract. May I close with an exhortation to 
bear in mind the fundamental importance to yourselves and 
to your children, as well as to the School, of the maintenance 
of the right sort of social aims and spirit throughout the school 
as a whole." 

These words seemed to promise a new era of fulfilment and 
expansion for the ideals of the Laboratory School. Those who 
had piloted this ship on its seven-year voyage of discovery 
thought at last they had found fair sailing. It proved, how- 
ever, only a brief season of good passage, for Mr. Dewey's 
resignation followed in the spring of 1904. This action was 
quite as unpremeditated on his part as it was unexpected to 
his associates. Early in the spring he was told that at the time 
of the merging of the four schools assurances had been given 
to the Trustees of the Chicago Institute that certain members 
of the administrative staff of the elementary school would be 
eliminated at the close of the first year after the merger. Mr. 
Dewey had been entirely ignorant of these assurances, found 


himself unable to accept them and resigned, first as Director 
of the School of Education and shortly after as Head of the 
Departments of Philosophy, Psychology, and Pedagogy. 

Only the passing of time has made it possible to state the 
reasons for this unhappy ending to so many relationships and 
undertakings. With the resignation of Mr. Dewey and the 
subsequent dispersal of all save three or four of the faculty of 
the Laboratory School, this experiment in education ended. 
The brief year of union with the School of Education at Chi- 
cago marked the close of the career of the Laboratory School, 
as the present School of Education can in no sense be regarded 
as the heir of either its purposes or its methods. There are 
many progressive schools which have extended the work of the 
Dewey School along certain lines, but nowhere has its closely 
knit social organization of children, parents, teachers in a uni- 
versity laboratory been achieved. Owing perhaps to the mech- 
anized character of American life ; there has been a distinct 
failure on the part of modern progressive schools to appreciate 
what the fundamental occupations of living cooking, sewing, 
carpentry, and all principal manual- training activities may do 
when clarified and organized as a means, par excellence, of 
preserving the investigative attitude and the creative ability 
of the growing child in socially directed expression. Day by 
day he gains both in his skill to control situations and to 
direct his own activity to further and more desired ends; he 
also becomes gradually conscious of his gain. This results in 
an integrated child, able to work more and more on his own 
initiative and under his own guidance a child who is matur- 
ing, who is both educating and being educated, and whose 
education continues throughout life. 

When the four schools united, there were, from the Labora- 
tory School, a number of children who had received in that 
school practically all of their education. Although their cur- 
riculum had always been different from that of the children 
of the other schools, it was said of them a few months later, 
"Either these are exceptional children, or they have been ex- 
ceptionally trained." They were, however, like other children 
of varying degrees of ability and types of temperament. They 


were exceptional only as they represented a group of parents 
who had caught a vision of a sort of education which they 
desired to have their children experience. 

The sense of frustration with which these parents viewed 
the apparent shipwreck of their high hopes was to some degree 
lessened by the conviction that what they had desired had been 
for a brief time fulfilled. As the years passed they grew more 
and more comforted by the fact that what had seemed to die, 
continued to live, and was extending its influence throughout 
America, and even to foreign lands, such as China, and Mexico; 
to the early schools of Soviet Russia and to those of many 
European countries. 



-LHE Laboratory School was both a department of the Uni- 
versity and a place where parents sent children to be educated. 
As such it required conditions which would insure freedom 
for investigation on the one hand, and normal development for 
child life on the other. This meant the planning of a curricu- 
lum which was not static in character, but one which minis- 
tered constantly to the changing needs and interests of the 
growing child's experience. It involved careful arrangement of 
the physical and social set-up of the school and a discriminat- 
ing search for subject-matter which would fulfil and further 
the growth of the whole child. It meant study and 6bservation 
in order that the materials and agencies used to present this 
subject-matter should be in agreement with the child's chang- 
ing attitudes and abilities, and would link what was valuable 
in his past experience to his present and his future. It required 
experimentation as to classroom methods in the use of this 
material so that it entered vitally into growth in such a way 
that control gained by the child in one situation might be 
carried on to the next, thus insuring continuity of experience, 
a habit of initiative, and an increasing skill in the use of the 
experimental method. As a child's social growth is largely a 
matter of adaptation to group relations, it was of primary 
importance that the subject-matter selected should be social 
in character and thus give free play to the child's group be- 
havior and guide the expression of his individual interests 
toward social ends. It was important that the guidance should 
be of such a character that the child never felt imposed upon 


by adult standards, but developed his own standards out of 
habitual social behavior, that is, behavior free from conscious 
competition or biased criticism of others' products. 

The task that lay before those who worked out the educa- 
tional implications of these newly formed theories was a dif- 
ficult one. It was difficult because it necessitated the discard- 
ing of many established methods of teaching and learning. It 
meant the careful study of the story of education, especially of 
those periods and types of civilization when there was no rift 
between experience and knowledge, when information about 
things and ways of doing grew out of social situations and 
represented answers to social needs, when the education of 
the immature member of society proceeded almost wholly^ 
through participation in the social or community life of which*' 
he was a member, and each individual, no matter how young, 
did certain things in the way of work and play along with 
others, and learned, thereby, to adjust himself to his surround- 
ings, to adapt himself to social relationships, and to get control 
of his own special powers. 

"He must learn by experience" is an old adage too little 
heeded by modern methods of schooling. Too often these meth- 
ods take for granted that there is a short cut to learning, and 
that knowledge apart from its use has meaning for the develop- 
ing mind. The memorizing of such knowledge has come to be 
a large part of present-day education, with the result that great 
masses of young lives have been denied the thrill of experi- 
mental living, of finding the way for themselves, of discovery, 
of invention, of creation. The fine aspiring tendril of child- 
hood's native curiosity, like the waving tip of a growing vine, 
seeks the how and why of doing its intellectual food. It is 
early stunted in many children. The strong urge to investigate, 
present in every individual, is often crushed by the memorizing 
of great masses of information useless to him, or the learning 
of skills that he is told may be useful to him in the far-away 
future, the sometime, and the somewhere. Only those in whom 
the urge to know will not be denied break away into new 
trails by virtue of individual and experimental effort, and 
when directed in the use of the scientific method, climb to the 


highest peaks of living; the majority travel a wide made-easy 
way of schooling into a dead level of mediocrity. 

It was necessary, therefore, for these experimenters in a new 
practice to ignore and forget certain practices and precepts of 
the old psychology. They must hold steadily before their mental 
eyes the newer psychological principles and chart a course of 
pedagogical thinking and practice. This new psychology recog- 
nized that the normal functioning mind of the child cannot 
operate or develop alone in a physical world. It requires, in 
addition to the continual stimulus of first-hand experience, 
that of contact with other minds and social agencies, and of 
recourse to the accumulated knowledge and past experience of 
the race. In other words, educative schooling must furnish a 
social and intellectual as well as a physical environment, in 
which the child may become increasingly familiar with all 
kinds of relationships and be trained to consider them so far 
as is necessary in his individual and experimental activities. In 
general, the problem and purpose of this new type of school- 
ing was, first of all, to aid the child to develop his own in- 
dividuality by expression of his ideas in deed as well as in 
word, and thus become a freely maturing person. Always, 
however, it was an important duty of those guiding this process 
to help the child gradually to shape his expressions to social 
ends, and thus make them, through his growing control, more 
and more effective in the corporate life of the group. 

Such free use of his powers by every child presupposes that 
he be studied and understood. Those planning the activities 
must see each child as an ever changing person, both because 
of what he undertakes and undergoes in his social group, and 
because of the changing needs of the succeeding stages of his 
development. They must carefully select and grade the ma- 
terials used, altering such selection, as is necessary in all ex- 
perimentation, in accord with the available materials, whether 
at hand or remote. 

The plan for the life of the school, in this experiment of 
education, was a simplified and ordered continuation of the 
life of the home. In this environment, both new and familiar, 
the child, conscious of no break in his experience, could learn 


to become a useful member of a larger social group. Guided 
and stimulated to social action, he would naturally judge the 
value of his action by the responses of others. He gets the feel 
and the thrill of using his individual powers for social ends 
and becomes more and more expert in making his contribu- 
tion socially effective. Cooperative effort involves interest in 
and consideration of others; he more and more naturally be- 
comes alert to their needs and generous to share with them his 
opportunities. An increasing fund of personally tested knowl- 
edge accumulates from these experiments in human relation- 
ships and becomes the foundation upon which he builds his 
future social ideals. Increasing confidence in himself as the 
guiding agent of his activities makes him a recognized and 
responsible member of the group with the result that he is an 
increasingly integrated and happy child, because he is satisfied, 
adjusted to, and helpful in the control and modification of his 
physical and social environments. 

In the ideal back of the plan two cardinal principles were 
held in mind. First, in all educative relationships the starting 
point is the impulse of the child to action, his desire respond- 
ing to the surrounding stimuli and seeking its expression in 
concrete form. Second, the educational process is to supply 
the materials and the positive and negative conditions the let 
and hindrance so that his expression, intellectually controlled, 
may take a normal direction that is social in both form and 
feeling. These principles determined the entire school's opera- 
tion and organization, as a whole and in detail. Study and 
performance of the basic and simplified occupations of life 
taught teachers and children how to do. In finding how to do, 
sense became alert to note and select materials to do with. 
Interest made minds receptive to facts and the best ways of 
doing. Knowledge became the child of experience, and the way 
of learning an alluring one. It was, however, often a difficult 
one to find. There were many false leads followed, but in the 
end a faint trail was made to which the hope still clings that 
it may prove the pathway to the promised land. 

Starting with the activities familiar and natural to little 
children (fundamental and familiar activities of the home), 


the school conceived itself as an institution intermediate be- 
tween the home and the larger school organization of the com- 
munity, growing naturally out of the one and into the other. 
All activity having to do with such basic and continuing needs 
of life as shelter, clothing, and food became the central focus 
of a developing curriculum. With this unifying factor, all life, 
whether of the home, school, or larger community, was seen 
as one and the same continuous, changing social life. Similarly 
the infant, the school child, and the grown man were recog- 
nized as one and the same, though changing, individual. In 
consequence, the story of the corporate life of this school is a 
biography, for it was as truly a living, growing organism as 
was any of its smaller or larger members. 

In the informal address to the parents and teachers toward 
the close of the third year of the school, Mr. Dewey gave a 
somewhat detailed account of the practices of the school in 
relation to its theoretical principles. Extracts from the steno- 
graphic notes of the address serve to give a bird's-eye view of 
the way in which the studies and activities of its curriculum 
were related or grew out of the daily experience of the chil- 
dren. These extracts are supplemented by portions of a circular 
published during the school's first year, 1 

"When the school was started, there were certain points 
which it seemed worth while to testfour questions, or prob- 
lems in mind. First, what can be done, and how can it be done, 
to bring the school, now a place where the child comes, learns 
certain lessons, and then goes home, into closer relation with 
the home and neighborhood life; how bridge the gap, and 
break down the traditional barriers, which unfortunately now 
separate the school from the rest of the child's everyday life? 
This does not mean, as sometimes interpreted, that the child 
should study in school things he already has learned at home, 
but that, so far as possible, he should take the same attitude 
and point of view at school as at home; that he should feel 
the same interest in going to school because he finds there 
things worth doing for their own sake and just as interesting as 

i John Dewey, "The University Elementary School, Studies and Methods/' 
University Record, May 31, 1897. 


the plays and occupations of his home and neighborhood. 
Again, the same motives which keep the child at work and 
growing should be used in the school as in the home, so that 
he shall not feel that he has one set of reasons which belongs 
to the school and another which is used in the home. 

"Second, how can history and science and art be introduced 
so that they will be of positive value and have real significance 
in the child's own present experience? How can they be made 
to represent, even to the youngest child, something worthy of 
attainment in skill or knowledge; something just as worthy 
to him because it is, at his level, as truly satisfying intellectually 
and emotionally as anything a high school or college student 
might be able to get at his period of education? It is true, many 
modifications have been made in the traditional primary cur- 
riculum of most schools. Statistics recently collected, however, 
show that seventy-five to eighty per cent of the first years of a 
child in school is spent upon the form, not the substance of 
learning; is given to the mastering of the symbols of read- 
ing, writing, and arithmetic. There is not much positive nutri- 
ment in this. Its purpose is important, but it does not represent 
the same kind of addition or increase in a child's whole in- 
tellectual and moral experience that is represented by the posi- 
tive subject-matter, now postponed to the later years of the 
child's education. One purpose, then, of the experiment is to 
see how much can be given to the child of the experiences of 
the world about him that is really worth his while to get; how 
far first-hand experience with the forces in that world and 
knowledge of its historical and social growth will enable him 
to develop the capacity to express himself in a variety of artistic 
forms. From the strictly educational side this has been the chief 
problem of the school. It is along this line that we hope to 
make our chief contribution to education in general. To this 
end, those subjects which have a positive content and intrinsic 
value of their own, and which call forth the inquiring and 
constructive attitude on the part of the pupil are made the 
core of the school work. 

"In the third place, how can instruction in the formal, 
symbolic branches of learningthe mastering of the ability 


to read, write, and use figures Intelligently be gained out of 
other studies and occupations as their background? How can 
the child be made to regard symbols as instruments and meth- 
ods needful in his study of those subjects which appeal to him 
on their own account? It is clear that need, when felt by the 
child, would supply the motive for getting technical capacity, 
and the question of the adjustment of these two sides of the 
work would be solved. It is not the purpose, as has been stated, 
of this school that the child learn to bake and sew at school, 
and to read, write, and figure at home. It is true, however, that 
these subjects of reading, writing, etc., are not presented dur- 
ing the early years in large doses. Instead, the child is led by 
other means to feel the motives for acquiring skill in the use 
of these symbols, motives which persist when competition, 
often the only motive in the early years of many schools, ceases. 
In this school, as well as in all schools, if a child realizes the 
motive for acquiring skill, he is helped in large measure to 
secure the skill. Books and the ability to read are, therefore, 
regarded strictly as tools. The child must learn to use these, 
just as he would any other tools. This implies that he shall 
have arrived at some conception of what they are for and have 
some end in view or motive for using them, and that the actual 
learning to read shall grow out of this motive. Accordingly, no 
special effort is made to teach children to read in the sixth 
year, or even in the seventh, unless the indications are that 
the child is awakening to his needs in that direction. The pre- 
mature teaching of reading, in the present school system, in- 
volves undue strain on the eyes and the nervous system, takes 
time away from subjects which have a positive content, and 
devotes it to a purely formal study, which the child can master 
with much less strain and more quickly when he is ready for 
it. The aim is thus to familiarize the child with the use of 
language as a means of discovering something otherwise un- 
known and of sharing with others what he himself has found 
out. Hence reading is taught in close connection with other 
subjects, science and history, not as a subject by itself. As soon 
as the child has an idea what reading is for and has a certain 
amount of technical facility, printed material is supplied him, 


not as a text-book, but as an additional tool in his equipment. 
The prevalent use of text-books has two evils. First, the child 
forms a habit of depending upon them and comes almost in- 
stinctively to assume that the book is the chief, if not the only 
way, of getting information. Then, the use of books, as texts, 
throws the mind into a passive and absorbing attitude. The 
child is learning instead of inquiring. 

"In the fourth place, individual attention is secured by small 
groupings of children and a large number of teachers, who 
attempt to supervise systematically the intellectual and phys- 
ical work of the child. This insures attention, so far as those 
in charge are capable of giving it, to the general well-being 
and development of each child. It also enables them to carry 
on in connection with school work a certain amount of in- 
vestigation of the psychological and physiological needs and 
powers of individual children. . . . 

'The use of the hand, and other motor organs in connection 
with the eye, is the great instrument through which the chil- 
dren most easily and naturally gain experience and come in 
contact with the familiar materials and processes of ordinary 
life. It affords unrivalled means for securing and holding at- 
tention. It is full of opportunities for cultivating the social 
spirit through the opportunities it affords for division of labor 
and mutual cooperation, and supplies the child with motives 
for working in ways positively useful to the community of 
which he is a member. The use of the hand is again the best 
possible instrument for cultivating habits of industry and con- 
tinuity in work, and of securing personal deftness and dexterity 
at the plastic period. When conducted in a free instead of 
mechanical spirit, it develops more than any other one in- 
strumentality, ingenuity in planning and power in execution. 
The constant testimony is that nothing compares with it as 
a means of arousing the child to a positive sense of his own 
power, and of encouraging him in expression and construc- 
tion. Furthermore, such training affords constantly recurring 
opportunities for related work in other directions. Cooking, 
for example, is a natural avenue of approach to simple but 
fundamental chemical facts and principles and to a study of 


the plants as articles of food. Similarly, a study of the ma- 
terials and processes involved is carried on in connection with 
sewing, and includes a study of the history of invention, of 
geography (localities of production and manufacturing, with 
lines of distribution), and of the growth and cultivation of 
plants, like cotton and flax which furnish the raw material. 
Recourse to measurement is had in these subjects. The car- 
pentry work, in particular, constantly calls for calculation and 
gives the child a command of numerical processes in a related 
way, and a genuine number sense is thus cultivated. Three 
main lines of manual training are pursued regularly, shop- 
work with wood and tools, the cooking, and the work with 
the textile fabrics. There is also much other hand-work in- 
cident to the experimental sciences. Indeed experience verifies 
the statement that hand-work, in variety and amount, is the 
most easy and natural of all ways to keep an attitude of com- 
bined effort and interest on the part of the child. The purpose, 
therefore, of those teaching and directing is to direct these 
activities, to systematize and organize them so that they shall 
not be as haphazard and wandering as they customarily are in 
child's play and home life. One of the most difficult problems 
is to enable the children to work continuously and definitely, 
and to help them pass from one phase of an activity to another. 
"Carpentry, cooking, sewing, and weaving all require dif- 
ferent sorts of skill and represent, as well, some of the most 
important industries of the everyday outside world. The ques- 
tions of living under shelter, of living in a home, of daily food 
and clothing, of protection through the home, and the support 
of life through food are basic things for all higher civilization. 
A child's interests are so direct and immediate that these things 
appeal to him. He gets through such activities, also, a training 
of the sense organs, of touch, of eye, and the ability to co- 
ordinate hand and eye. They furnish, as well, a healthy sort 
of exercise. They are more natural to child life than to keep 
continually quiet, to work at a book, or to engage in more 
formal modes of action. In addition, there is a continual ap- 
peal to memory, to judgment in adapting ends to means. Train- 


ing in habits of order, of industry, and of neatness in the care 
of tools, or utensils are also by-products, for the child gets at 
things in a systematic instead of a haphazard way. 

"All the children (boys and girls being treated alike) have 
cooking, sewing, and carpentry, besides incidental work with 
paper and pasteboard. From one to two hours a week are given 
to sewing, cooking, and carpentry respectively. Each group of 
children prepares its own luncheon once a week, being re- 
sponsible for the setting of the table, reception of guests, and 
the serving of the meal. This is found to afford a positive 
motive for the cooking, as well as to give it a social value. In 
the carpentry shop no rigid series of exercises is followed. The 
aim is to adapt the tools and materials to the muscular and 
mental power of the child. The things made are, in the first 
place, the articles needed in the school work. For example, 
wands, dumb-bell racks, and wand-racks have been made for 
the gymnasium, and simple balances, with lead weights, test- 
tube racks, and simple experimental apparatus, for the labora- 
tory. All of this active individual experience makes a back- 
ground, especially in the earlier groups, for the later studies. 
Children get a good deal of chemistry in connection with cook- 
ing, of number-work and geometrical principles in connection 
with their theoretical work in carpentry, and quite an amount 
of geography very easily and naturally in connection with sew- 
ing. History enters in as the story of industrial development 
and growth of various inventions. 

"Upon the whole, greater attention has been given to the 
relation of the positive subject-matter to the activity program, 
than to any other one aspect. History is introduced at a very 
early period and is conducted on the principle that it is a 
means of affording the child insight into social life. It is treated, 
therefore, not as a record of something which is past and gone, 
but as a way of realizing what enters into the make-up of 
society and of how society has grown to be what it is. Treated 
thus, as a mode of insight into social life, great emphasis is 
laid upon the typical relations of humanity to nature, as 
summed up in the development of food, shelter, habitation, 


clothing, and industrial occupations. This affords insight into 
the fundamental processes and instruments which have con- 
trolled the development of civilization and also affords natural 
and frequent opportunities for adjusting the work in history to 
that in manual training on the one side, and to science on the 

"The younger children begin with the home and the occupa- 
tions of the home. In the sixth year (of the child) these lead 
to a study of the occupations outside the home, the larger 
social industriesfarming, mining, lumberingthat they may 
see the complex and various occupations on which life de- 
pends. They experiment with raw materials, with the various 
metals and observe materials new to them, noting what they 
are like and their uses. This makes a beginning of scientific 

"The following year takes up the historical development 
of industry and invention. Starting with man as a savage, the 
typical phases of his progress upward are followed, until the 
iron age is reached when man has begun to enter upon a civi- 
lized career. The object of this study of the primitive period 
is not to keep the child in the primitive period, but rather to 
show him the steps of progress and development, especially 
along the line of invention, by which man was led into civiliza- 
tion. There is a certain nearness, after all in the child, to 
primitive forms of life. It is much more simple, and by throw- 
ing emphasis on the progress of man and the way advances took 
place, it is hoped to avoid the objections that are made, and 
validly so, of paying too much attention to savage life, 

"It is at this point that the study of history, as such, really 
begins, as the story of primitive life cannot properly be called 
history. In the school about this time a year was given to the 
world wide explorations and discoveries, which developed an 
idea of the world as a whole and served as an introduction to 
the history of the settlements in America. Study of the early 
fur traders of North America, who established the trade routes, 
led naturally to the settlement of Chicago. This with some 
local history prefaced the general American history of the next 
two or three years. Greek and Roman history were then in- 


troduced, and finally, the regular chronological order of the 
development of civilization is adopted. 

"As regards the study of literature, perhaps the most striking 
departure from methods pursued in other progressive schools 
is that literature is regarded as a social expression. It is ap- 
proached, therefore, through the medium of history, instead 
of studying history through the medium of literature. This 
method puts the latter subject in its proper perspective, and 
avoids the danger of distracting and over-stimulating the child 
with stories which to him (however they may be to the adult) 
are simply stories. In developing the work upon Greek life, 
for example, it was found that practically all the books for 
children are composed from the strictly literary side. Many 
of them in addition make the myth fundamental, instead of 
an incident to the intellectual and social development of the 
Greek people. 

"Both nature study (that is the study through observation of 
obvious natural phenomena) and experimental work are in- 
troduced from the beginning. The science is very much more 
difficult to arrange and systematize. There is so little to follow, 
so little that has been already done. It is impossible to exag- 
gerate this statement. The slight amount of work in science 
that has been developed in any systematic way for the use of 
children, which purposes to cultivate their powers of noting 
the habits of plants and animals and of observing things with 
reference to their uses, is almost negligible. The earth is, per- 
haps, the focus for the science study as practically all of the 
work relates to it sooner or later, and in one way or another. 

"Children of six as well as those of ten work in the labora- 
tory, and with equal profit, both as regards the development 
of their intelligence and the acquisition of skill and dexterity 
in manipulation. The attempt is not to give them analytic 
knowledge of objects or minute formulations of scientific prin- 
ciples, either of which are incomprehensible to a child of this 
age. The object is to arouse his spirit of curiosity and investiga- 
tion and awaken him to a consciousness of the world in which 
he lives, to train the powers of observation, to instil a practical 
sense of methods of inquiry, and gradually to form in the mind 


images of the typical moving forces and processes involved in 
all natural change. The results thus far show an eager and 
definite response to this mode of approach. 

"Another aspect of the science studied is the application of 
natural forces to the service of man through machines. Last 
year a good deal of work was done in electricity, based on the 
telegraph and the telephone. Things that could easily be 
grasped were taken up. In mechanics, they have studied locks 
and clocks with reference to the adaptation of the various parts 
of the machinery to accomplish their work. Cooking also gives 
opportunity for unconscious absorption of a great many me- 
chanical ideas of heat and water. In general, the scientific work 
in this school differs from that of other schools in having the 
experimental part of both physics and chemistry emphasized. 
It does not confine the science work to nature study, the study 
of plants and animals. This does not imply, that the latter is 
less valuable, but does maintain that physical science should 
be brought into the program from the first, by introducing 
larger generalizations in a story form. 

"As regards the spirit of the school, the chief object is to 
secure a free and informal community life in which each child 
will feel that he has a share and his own work to do. This is 
made the chief motive towards what are ordinarily termed 
order and discipline. It is believed that the only genuine order 
and discipline are those which proceed from the child's own 
respect for the work which he has to do and his consciousness 
of the rights of others who are, with himself, taking part in 
this work. As already suggested, the emphasis in the school 
upon various forms of practical and constructive activity gives 
ample opportunity for appealing to the child's social sense 
and to his regard for thorough and honest work. 

"Genuine, as distinct from artificial, moral growth is meas- 
ured by the extent to which children practically recognize in 
the school the same moral motives and relations that obtain 
outside. This can be secured only when the school contains the 
social conditions and presents the flexible, informal relations 
that prevail in everyday life. When school duties and responsi- 
bilities are of a sort found only in the school, comparatively 


little aid is secured for the all-round healthy development of 
character. When school conditions are so rigid and formal as 
not to parallel anything outside the school, external order and 
decorum may be secured, but there is no guarantee of right 
growth in directions demanded by the ordinary walks of life. 
When what is expected of children is based on the require- 
ments of school lessons and school order, as laid down by text- 
book or teacher, not by work of positive value to those doing 
it, external habits of attention and restraint may be formed, 
but not power of initiative and direction, nor moral self- 
control. Hence the emphasis in the school laid upon social oc- 
cupations, which continue and reinforce those of life outside 
the school, and the comparative freedom and informality ac- 
corded the children. These are means, not an end. Moral re- 
sponsibility is secured only by corresponding freedom. Hence 
the school work on the moral side is to be judged, not by pass- 
ing external occurrences or external evidences or attitudes, but 
by its efficiency in promoting healthy growth of character in 
the child and a general modification of disposition and motive, 
both of which are slow processes and not sudden transforma- 

"For genuine intellectual development it is impossible to 
separate the attainment of knowledge from its application. The 
divorce between learning and its use is the most serious defect 
of our existing education. Without the consciousness of ap- 
plication, learning has no motive to the child. Material thus 
learned is separated from the actual conditions of the child's 
life, and a fatal split is introduced between school learning 
and vital experience a split which reflects itself in the child's 
whole mental and moral attitude. The emphasis in the school 
upon constructive and so-called manual work is due largely 
to the fact that such occupations connect themselves easily and 
naturally with the child's everyday environment. They create 
natural motives for the acquiring of information and the mas- 
tery of related methods through the problems which they 

"As to methods, the aim is to keep alive and direct the active 
inquiring attitude of the child, and to subordinate the amass- 


ing of facts and principles to the development of intellectual 
self-control and of power to conceive and solve problems. Im- 
mense damage is done whenever the getting of a certain 
quantity of information or the covering a certain amount of 
ground is made the end, at the expense of mastery by each 
child, of a method of inquiry and of reflection. If children can 
retain their natural investigating tendencies unimpaired, 
gradually organizing them into definite methods of work, when 
they reach the proper age, they can master the required amount 
of facts and generalizations easily and effectively. Whereas, 
when the latter are forced upon them at so early a period as 
to crush the natural interest in searching out new truths, 
acquiring tends to replace inquiring. 

"The social spirit of the school thus furnishes the controlling 
moral motive of the child. His own alert inquiring attitude 
is his intellectual spur. Along with this goes the possibility 
of attention to individuals as such. For purposes of convenience 
the children are divided into small groups of eight to twelve 
according to the kind of work and the age of the children. 
It is expected that the teacher will give attention to the specific 
powers and deficiencies of each child, so that the individual 
capacities will be brought out, and individual limitations made 
good. This attention extends to the physical as well as the in- 
tellectual side. Each child receives a personal physical exami- 
nation in the gymnasium, and all defects are reported to the 
parent in order that the child may have the special exercises 
needed to build him up. He also is examined in the psycho- 
logical laboratory of the University, with reference to his sense 
organs and motor powers. Almost twenty per cent of the chil- 
dren in the school have been thus far reported to their parents 
as needing either special exercises or the attention of a com- 
petent medical specialist to the eyes, ears, or throat. 

"The School is often called an experimental school. In one 
sense this is the proper name, for it is an experiment school- 
with reference to education and educational problems in which 
an attempt is being made to find by experience whether and 
how these problems may be worked out, A characteristic of 
experiment is change or modification of the original method 


or plan. There are two points upon which the ideas and policy 
of the school have been modified, where the point of view has 
changed in process. When the school was small, it was intended 
to mix up the children, the older and the younger to the 
end that the younger might learn unconsciously from the 
older. There seemed moral advantages to both, in having the 
older assume certain responsibilities in the care of the younger. 
As the school grew, it became necessary to abandon this policy 
and to group the children with reference to their common 
capabilities or store of knowledge. These groups are based not 
on ability to read, write, etc., but on the basis of community 
of interest, general intellectual capacity and mental alertness, 
and the ability to do certain kinds of work. In other ways, 
however, children of different groups are still mingling, as they 
move about and come in contact with different teachers. Thus 
the gap between groups is bridged and the step-ladder system 
of the public school avoided. . . . 

"The children also meet in general 'assemblies for singing 
and for the report of the school work as read by different mem- 
bers of the groups. All hear the report of what each group is 
doing. This mixture of the ages is also secured by giving to 
the older children for a half hour a week, responsibility for 
the work of some of the younger groups. This enables them, 
especially in hand-work, to enter into the activity of the 
younger children by cooperating with them. 

"As a result of experience, the other chief modification has 
been with regard to specialization on the part of teachers. It 
was assumed, at first, that an all-round teacher would be the 
best, and perhaps it would be advisable to have one teacher 
teach the children in several branches. This theory, however, 
has been abandoned, and it has been thought well to secure 
teachers who are specialists by taste and training experts along 
different lines. One of the reasons for this modification of the 
original plan was the difficulty of getting scientific facts pre- 
sented that were facts and truths. It has been assumed that any 
phenomenon that interested a child was good enough, and that 
if he were aroused and made alert, that was all that could be 
expected. It is, however, just as necessary that what he gets 


should be truth and should not be subordinated to anything 
else. The training of observation by having the child see wrong 
is not so desirable as sometimes it has been thought to be. The 
difficulty of getting scientific work presented except by those 
who were specialists has led to the change in regard to other 
subjects as well. 

"On the other hand, however, it has been recognized that, 
in the effort to avoid the serious evils of the first situation, 
there is a tendency to swing from one extreme to the other. 
That when specialists are employed the result is often that 
each does his work independently of the other, and the unity 
of the child's life is thus sacrificed to the tastes and acquisitions 
of a number of specialists. It seemed, however, not a question 
of the specialist but of the expert. When manual training, art, 
science, and literature are to be taught, it is a physical and 
mental impossibility that one person should be competent in 
all these lines of work. Superficial work is bound to be done 
in some one of them, and the child, through not having a 
model of expert workmanship to follow, acquires careless and 
imperfect methods of work. The school, accordingly, is en- 
deavoring to put the various lines of work in charge of experts 
who maintain agreement and harmony through continued con- 
sultation and cooperation. When the different studies and oc- 
cupations are controlled by reference to the same general 
principles, unity of aim and method are secured. The results 
obtained justify the belief that the undue separation, which 
often follows teaching by specialists, is a result of lack of super- 
vision, cooperation, and control by a unified plan." 

This principle of guidance by experts referred to by Mr. 
Dewey was continued throughout the school's existence and 
was fundamental to the plan. Experience showed that the so- 
cial spirit of the school successfully avoided the dangers of too 
narrow and therefore isolated specialization in subject-matter 
and method. 





studying the developing curriculum of the Laboratory 
School, two periods may be recognized. The practices of the 
first period (1896 to 1898) were largely experimental and 
guided by the theoretical premises of its hypothesis, native in- 
sight as to the nature of children, practical acquaintance with 
certain fields of subject-matter, and first-hand experience in 
the use of scientific method. Those of the second period (1898 
to 1903) grew out of or were revised on the basis of the courses 
and methods that had proved successful in the first. 

In plannmgji. school, program that was to be an experiment 
in cooperative living, the child was the person of first concern. 
There were certain theoretical premises in its underlying 
hypothesis certain general principles which were to be aids 
in understanding its purposes and in guiding its practices. 

1 "The primary business of school is to train children in co- 
operative and mutually helpful living, to foster in them the 
consciousness of interdependence, and to help them practically 
in making the adjustments that will carry this spirit into overt 
deeds. The primary root of all educative activity is in the in- 
stinctive, impulsive attitudes and activities of the child. . . . 
Accordingly, the numberless spontaneous activities of children, 
plays, games, mimic efforts, even the apparently meaningless 
motions of infants are capable of educational use, are the 
foundation-stones of educational method. 

"These individual tendencies and activities are only organized 
and exercised through their use in an actual process of co- 

ijohn Dewey, "Froebel's Educational Principles,'* Elementary School 
Record, No. i, February, 1900. 



operative living; the best results follow when such a process 
reproduces on the child's plane the typical doings and occupa- 
tions of the larger, maturer society into which he is finally 
to go forth; and it is only through such productive and creative 
use that valuable knowledge is secured and clinched." 


The problem therefore became one of how to utilize the 
child's individual tendencies, his original impulses to express 
himself with such growing power and skill as to help him 
contribute with increasing effectiveness to the life of his group. 
For purposes of convenience, these native impulses are roughly 
classified and described by Mr. Dewey under four heads: the 
social, the constructive, the investigative, and the expressive. 

The social impulse of a little child is shown in his desire to 
share with his family and others the experiences of his limited 
world. This self-centered interest in his own immediate en- 
vironment is capable of a continuing expansion; it is the tap- 
root of his intellectual life. His desire to tell about things, to 
share his ideas with others, takes advantage of all possible ways 
of expression and communication and influences his growth 
profoundly. The language instinct, the simplest form of the 
social expression of a child, is, therefore, a great, perhaps the 
greatest, of all educational resources. 2 

The child's impulse to do, to make the constructive impulse 
finds expression first in play, in rhythmic movement, in ges- 
ture, and make-believe; then becomes more definite and seeks 
outlet in shaping raw materials into tangible form and perma- 
nent embodiment. As these self-initiated social and construc- 
tive efforts of the child, aided by skilful direction from with- 
out, are shaped to his own definitely imaged and desired ends, 

2 All the expressive arts, modeling, painting, drawing, etc., might be 
included either under this heading or that of the constructive impulse. 
Mr. Dewey suggests that the impulse to this kind of expression probably 
originates in both the social and constructive impulses of the child, that 
they are in reality refinements of them. For purposes of convenience, 
however, these expressions are grouped under a separate heading of 
artistic activities. 


they result in helpful contributions to the common work and 
play. The very sense of having helped out turns back into and 
enhances the child's estimate of his own power. He finds for 
himself a consummate value in such a realization and is stimu- 
lated to further and better efforts. Little by little, a construc- 
tive way of acting becomes habitual and results in a developing 
experience for the child and for the group, an experience 
which is continually refined and enriched as it enlarges day 
by day. 

The impulse to investigate and experiment is often a com- 
bination of the constructive and the conversational impulses. 
Hence, in the school, there was no distinction made between 
the experimental science for the little children and the work 
done in the carpentry shop'. They liked best of all to do things 
just to see what would happen. The teacher's part was to con- 
trive that one result should lead through one meaning to an- 
other, to ever more meaningful results. 

The expressive impulse, like the investigative, seems to fol- 
low the communicating and constructive impulses; it is their 
refinement and full manifestation. All the utensils and ma- 
terials necessary to express ideas were, therefore, at hand when 
the desire to do so sprang out of the children's activities. 


These fourfold desires to communicate, to construct, to in- 
quire, and to express in finer form are the child's natural 
springs for action. His growth depends upon their use and 
exercise. The story of the developing curriculum is seen, there- 
fore, to be the story of the attempts to meet and utilize these 
deep-lying urges to expression and creative effort. 

At the start, there was no previous school experience which 
had attempted to meet the psychological conditions of learn- 
ing implied in the concept of the organic circuit. Only a few 
theoretical principles had been formulated by Mr. Dewey 
which were privately printed during the fall of 1895. Nor were 
there any precedents as to a plan for school organization. The 
experience of the first six months, therefore, was largely re- 


vealing of what not to do. Aims, plans, and methods were, ac- 
cordingly, reconsidered, at its close, and on the basis of its suc- 
cesses and particularly of its failures, many revisions were made 
in the school's curriculum, its organization, and administra- 
tion. The school's original purpose still held, namely, to give 
each child the opportunity and method for doing those things 
he really wanted to do and such guidance in the process that 
his concept of their social meaning continually developed. 


With the growing realization that the developing program 
of the school was a program of related activities, the concep- 
tion of the requirements of the teacher in charge of these ac- 
tivities, her abilities, natural aptitudes, and training, likewise 
took on a different aspect. The need of specialists whose back- 
grounds and training had fitted them for teaching certain sub- 
jects became apparent. Accordingly, from the beginning, in the 
building of such a staff, a specialist in science was included as 
a member of the teaching force. 


The addition of elementary nature study or science, of litera- 
ture and history, to the three R's of the old curriculum, to- 
gether with the multiplication of the means of expression (the 
so-called special studies, music, drawing, coloring, modeling) 
has disturbed the unity and balance of traditional primary edu- 
cation in many school systems. The result has been a confused 
and distracted child. To any one in intimate contact with 
young children, the glaring lack of continuity in most school 
programs, even in many of the better progressive types, seems 
quite beyond belief. The continuity that the word growth 
implies seems something apart from many teachers' conception 
of the nature of school activity. In many advanced private as 
well as public schools the young child's day is still compart- 
mented into tiny cubicles of time without sufficient care for 
either social or intellectual relations. The pressing problem 


then, even as now, became how to utilize all these subjects and 
means of expression in an educative way, how to organize them 
about a common center, give them a thread of continuity, and 
make each reinforce the others. 

A common center was found for the Laboratory School in 
the idea of the school-house as a home in which the activities 
of social or community life were carried on. The ideal was so 
to use and guide the child's interest in his home, his natural 
environment, and in himself that he should gain social and 
scientifically sound notions of the functions of persons in the 
home; of plant and animal, including human life, and their 
interdependence; of the sun as the source of all energy; of 
heat as a special form of energy used in the home (as in cook- 
ing); and of food as stored energy. The materials about him 
and the things that were being done to and with them fur- 
nished the ideas for the initial start and choice of the activities 
which occupied the children in the shop, laboratory, kitchen, 
and studios. These ideas were chosen for study not alone be- 
cause of their direct, clear, and explicit relationship to the 
child's own present environment and experience, but also be- 
cause of their indirect, veiled, and implied relationship to the 
past out of which present conditions have developed and to 
the future which is dependent upon the present. They started 
the child in his present, interested him to relive the past, and 
in due time carried him on to future possibilities and achieve- 
ments in an ever developing experience. In brief, they fur- 
nished a thread of continuity because they were concerned with 
the fundamental requisites of living. 

From the teacher's standpoint, the development of these 
ideas afforded occasions and opportunities for the enrichment 
and extension of the child's experience in connection with his 
activities. The reconstructed story of the building of the homes 
of the primitive peoples, as the youngest group imagined and 
reenacted it, took on a character as real in historical quality 
as the authentic accounts of the homes of the ancient Greeks 
the history learned by older groups. New words and short 
sentences, both read and written, added themselves easily to 
the vocabularies of the youngest children, while literature 


embodying beauty of the written word was given to them in 
myth and story that had to do with the activities they were 
carrying on. From the teacher's point of view, the child was 
learning art as he drew, daubed, or modeled the idea that urged 
him to expression. He, however, unconscious that he was learn- 
ing anything, expressed in line or color, clay, wood, or softer 
fabric, the thing that in him lay and in so doing, no matter how 
crude the result, tasted of those deep satisfactions that attend 
all creative effort. Little did the experimenting child realize 
that he was studying physics as he boiled down his cane or 
maple syrup, watched the crystallization process, the effects of 
heat on water, and of both on the various grains used for food. 
He reinvented Ab's trap for the sabre-toothed tiger, quite 
oblivious that he was rediscovering the use of a certain kind 
of lever. The teacher knew, although he did not, that he was 
studying the chemistry of combustion as he figured out why 
fire burned, or weighed, burned, and weighed again the ashes 
from the different woods or coal and compared results. The 
coal in the bins in the cellar was traced to the mines and the 
fossil plants. The coal beds were located as were all the prod- 
ucts used in the activities. From the teacher's standpoint, this 
was geology and geography, or biology as the children ex- 
amined the seeds, their distribution, and use as food, or the 
life of the birds and animals in the open fields. From the child's 
standpoint, however, these ideas were interesting facts or skills 
that he learned as he went about his various occupations; they 
were reflected, as it were, in the series of activities through 
which he passed in becoming conscious of the basis of social 

In their constructive work the younger groups made their 
own jute-board pencil boxes, their book covers, and other arti- 
cles needed in the school life. They selected the material for, 
measured, cut, and basted the dish towels for their laboratory 
kitchen. As they relived imaginatively the life and occupations 
of primitive man and reconstructed his environment and needs, 
they built into sand or clay or stone their ideas of the types of 
shelter used at this stage of life. They rediscovered the best 
kind of stone for making the weapons that he needed for pro- 


tection from the wild animals or the best kind of clay for many 
uses in the way of utensils. As a by-product, they learned many 
geological facts, the source of the clay from the silt of rivers, 
the different kinds of stone, and the reasons for their dif- 

In the laboratory, the child experimenter boiled water, col- 
lected steam, tried to "keep it in," and discovered its power 
as well as its heat. Under the same careful guidance, he planted 
corn in cotton and in soil; he kept it in the dark or in the light, 
in air and in a vacuum, weighing or measuring before and 
after, and learning what changes, if any, had been brought 
about by the growing plants. In the kitchen, also a laboratory, 
he husked, shelled, pounded, ground (for this he had made a 
mill in the shop), parched, soaked, and cooked corn which 
he had obtained from an interested farmer, when on a visit to 
his farm. The weighing and measuring were on scales, in meas- 
ures, or with thermometers made by the children themselves. 
For the simple reason that they could not weigh or measure 
and thus carry on something which claimed both their interest 
and effort without knowledge of and skill in the use of the 
symbols of weight and measurement, they learned the value of 
numbers, quite unaware that they were studying mathematics. 
Pints and pounds, halves, quarters, thirds became familiar de- 
vices to attain desired ends. The study of social life furnished 
the thread of continuity, linking all these modes of experi- 
encewhether constructive or experimental. It had a direct 
aspect as revealed in the physical and social environment of the 
present or an indirect as in history and literature. 

The following is a necessarily brief sketch of the school's 
first two years of rapid growth and experimentation. There 
were many trials of different types of subject-matter with dif- 
ferent groups of children which were discarded as not suitable 
either because of the character and training of the teacher, 
and the background of the children, or because the materials 
and equipment necessary were not available. With the younger 
groups, the meaning of the home was developed in detail. 
When very young, the child was led to consciousness that it 
was the center and source of all things necessary to his well- 


being. In it he found food, shelter, and comfort, all of which 
came through the agency of various persons his mother, his fa- 
ther, the milkman, the grocery boy, and others. 

He learned that he and his home were dependent upon life 
without, particularly the life of the farm. A model farm was 
built in a large sand pan, and the study extended itself to what 
constitutes a typical farm locality the kind of land for pasture, 
for meadow, or for the grain fields. The process was, of neces- 
sity, one of constant sharing by all. The practical methods of 
communication, the use of language, of reading, of writing, of 
measuring, took on importance in the eyes of the children and 
were thus naturally included in their daily program. The 
seasonal changes as exhibited in the relation of sun and earth, 
the vegetables and animal life, and the occupations of human 
life were, of course, constantly emphasized. 3 

The plan of the year's work was to make the study of social 
life the center of attention and to follow its development, in 
part at least, from its earliest beginnings through the barbaric 
stage to the opening of authentic history. Starting with the 
most primitive ways of living, it took up the beginnings and 
growth of industry through discovery and invention and their 
effect on social life. 

The finding of metals was developed differently each year. 
Each group discovered the various ores, worked out in their 
own way their smelting process and the way in which such 
discoveries reacted upon the lives of those concerned. Usually 
the discovery of iron was taken up in great detail. Much dis- 
cussion disclosed the many uses for this metal and the fact of 
its frequent occurrence in many localities. The construction 
of miniature smelting places introduced the problems of air 
supply and fuel in small bulk and the difficulty of right appli- 
cation of heat. Other incidental problems were met and solved. 
The kindling point of different materials, which the children 
burned in small smelting places, was discovered. The latter 
were of necessity tiny kilns rather than the large pit smelting 
places of the early metal industry. As they worked, the chil- 

"School Record, Noles, and Plan XXI. The University of Chicago 
School," University Record, April 21, 1897. 


dren thought out the effect this new industry would have upon 
the social life of people, as requiring a division of labor, and 
attempted to carry out such an organization in their own ef- 
forts to work together on a single smelting place, under the 
leadership of one person. Great emphasis was laid upon the 
development of the metal industry. It was a dramatic picture 
of the effect upon civilization of invention and discovery which 
resulted in control of the material which is basic to all other 
industries. The organization on the social side necessary for 
its production gave the children a picture of the beginnings 
of our industrial society. 4 The subject of the governmental de- 
velopment, which had entered incidentally into previous dis- 
cussions, was now taken up as a subject by itself. The methods 
of transportation, necessitated by the beginning of commerce, 
and the barter of the new iron weapons, carried on by the 
more advanced tribes, were also discussed. 5 

In their study of social life, the older children of Groups 
V and VI (eight to ten years old) passed through the phases 
of primitive living more quickly than the younger groups 
and soon came to the period when man had settled into perma- 
nent homes. The life of the early Greek peoples was chosen 
as forming the easiest transition from the imagined records 
of primitive lives to the records of authentic history. Again 
there were no precedents to follow, and the question arose as 
to how to present history subject-matter to young children. 
What would be a good starting point? Again the guiding prin- 
ciple answered it must be something closely related to their 
own life and therefore of interest to them. Experiment only 
could tell whether this interest lay in the manner of living, 
the social and political institutions, commerce, art, literature, 
religion, or thought. It was a serious problem to select from 

4 Little time was given to the Bronze Age, as but a limited portion of 
mankind passed through this stage. This was found to be a mistake. The 
greater fusibility of copper and tin, together with the fact that they are 
found in a native state (thus making the processes simpler) would have 
made a more natural approach to the greater step of the discovery and 
use of iron. 

s "Report of the University Elementary School," University Record, 
February n, 1898. 


all the wealth of collected knowledge that which should prove 
of most value for the child. 

A beginning was made with social life of the early Greeks. 
Their social groupings were studied and questions asked. How 
did these come to be, and what were the relations of these so- 
cial groups to each other? An attempt was made to trace the 
activities of the Greeks and to study their methods of war- 
fare, commerce, and political and domestic life. This led to a 
study of their fortifications, their weapons, and war chariots, 
their ships and methods of navigation, their forms of govern- 
ment, and governing officers, the making and execution of their 
laws, their homes, schools, farms, and cities. This study of 
institutions proved very interesting, but not entirely satis- 
factory. Full interest was lacking. The difficulty seemed to be 
that all these things persisted in remaining objective and far 
away from the children in spite of the fact that they had once 
had to do with the reality of living. The work was too abstract 
and detailed for this age of development, too formal and too 
remote from present personal interest. The dynamic quality 
was lacking, that which made life moving and vital. It did 
not furnish images enough. What was to be done? 

Again, the recent past experience seems to have been scru- 
tinized for a suggestion of the next best step. These children 
were already thoroughly familiar with the myths of Greece so 
these did not seem to demand further attention. The line of 
approach lay somewhere between the myth-tale and such a 
study of Greek life as already had been attempted. This was 
finally found in what might be called a study of Greek char- 
acters. The myth and the organization of a Greek home were 
left almost wholly out of account, and a study was made of 
the great men of Greece, for in their deeds, shared by the whole 
nation, the common life of Greece found its best and most 
complete expression. 

Interest in individuals is strong in children of this age. It is 
the period when they revel most in their own newly discovered 
individuality. Early peoples have the same experience. Their 
history is the history of heroes, and it is not less history be- 
cause it takes the form of biography in which the emotional 


life of a whole people is expressed, so clearly and concisely 
that it is readily grasped by the child. 

The children gleaned much of the material for this study 
themselves, did almost all of their own reading, and repro- 
duced on paper many of the tales of the Iliad, the Odyssey, 
Herodotus, and Plutarch. The events and persons involved 
were never to them mere historical happenings of a long time 
ago or characters who were dead and gone. They were living 
men and women anxious to do certain things to and with 
other men and women. As the study progressed, there was a 
gradual passage from the concern of a single hero to those -of 
a people who desire a common end and, therefore, act co- 
operatively. The gradual growth of people led by inspired in- 
dividuals to the common aims and united efforts of a corporate 
group is richly illustrated by Greek development and formed 
a basis of transition to the story of the organization and ad- 
ministration of the corporate life of the Roman people. 

A study of the social life of the Romans had already been 
attempted with a younger Group (ten years), but here again 
experience proved the children were too immature to ap- 
preciate enough of the definite contribution made by this 
civilization to make the study worth their while. On the back- 
ground, however, of their study of the development of the 
Greek community life, it was hoped that these older children 
might become familiar with the trend of historical events and 
gain pictures of the social life of the times and the political 
evolution of a state. On the whole, however, this second ex- 
periment also was not wholly a success and did not warrant 
another trial with children of this age. The study of the Roman 
state was finally developed more satisfactorily in the later 
years with older children. 6 

For all groups during these two years the science work was 
a study of the plant as something which does work. 7 Attention 
was first directed accordingly to the active functions, such as 

e Group IX (thirteen to fourteen years), Teacher, E. C. Moore, Uni- 
versity Record, December 16, 1898. 

7 Course outlined by John M. Coulter, and under direction of Katherine 


breathing and circulation, and the analysis of structure was 
made simply to locate the parts which do the work. The 
younger children, as compared with the older, showed a much 
keener interest in this observational work and preferred it to 
the experimental. Their drawings and records evidenced more 
freedom and less formality in their habits of noticing and re- 
cording. The older children studied the adaptation of plants 
to their environment. This included the different species 
found in different soils, and at different elevations, and 
brought out the relation of moisture to plant growth. A vacant 
lot was selected; the character of the soil in the high and in 
the low places was studied; and the different plants native to 
each environment and their groupings were noted. 

With children of nine and ten years, the science included 
also a study of electricity as they saw it in everyday use. 8 The 
electric battery or cell was used as a starting point, and the 
climax of their first investigations in this field was the installa- 
tion of an electric bell in the school-room. Simple experiments 
led as steps up to the understanding of the electric bell and 
later of the telegraph and telephone. 

The work in cooking with the older groups was also largely 
experimental in character. The making of jelly from cran- 
berries and apples gave occasion for emphasizing or introduc- 
ing many physical processes, such as the effect of boiling water 
in disintegrating solid matter and in hastening the process of 
evaporation. These were demonstrated by experiment. The 
change of water into steam and back again into water, through 
the condensation process, was noted and voluntarily related to 
observation of the same process elsewhere. The effect of heat 
and cold upon the density of the material was brought out 
when the class saw that the hot liquid strained mucli more 
easily than the cold, and that the juice grew solid much faster 
when placed out of doors. A number of children began at 
this time to relate processes noted in cooking to similar proc* 

s The time spent was three to four hours weekly for ten weeks. The 
children worked individually, the discussion and a few of the more com- 
plicated experiments being conducted by the group as a whole. Course 
was first given by Katherine Camp. 


esses in nature. The resemblance of thick boiling liquids to 
geysers and volcanoes was noticed, and generalizations were 
made about the expansive tendency of heat and the fact that 
steam demands more space than the water from which it was 

The custom of a weekly luncheon worked well for the 
older groups also in expressing and developing a social spirit. 
The work of getting lunch was variously distributed among 
the different children. Some calculated and measured the 
amount of cocoa needed, others measured and weighed hominy 
and water. Others set the table, while two wrote stories to 
read for the entertainment of the others. On a special oc- 
casion the ten-year-old group prepared a luncheon for twenty- 
two people. The meal consisted of bean soup and cocoa, and 
the children themselves bought the milk, bread, and butter 
needed. In the meantime, some of Group IV (nine years) 
set the tables and some wrote stories to be read at table 
for the entertainment of Group V (ten years). Among these 
stories were Robin Hood, Sun and the North Wind, Puss in 
Boots, Apollo and the Python, and others on original themes. 

Opportunity was constantly given for expression in various 
mediums. By means of crayon, pencil, color, and scissors, as 
well as through the spoken and written word, the children 
were encouraged to record the memories of a walk, the apples 
they had gathered, the story they had heard, or the process 
they had imagined or carried through. One of these younger 
groups attempted graphically to represent the evolution of 
the house, from the earth lodge and cave to the Greek temple. 
The time given to the constructive work in shop, to the de- 
velopment of design and the decorative arts in laboratory or 
studio, to the writing of records, the related number work, 
or the reading and language drill in both English and French 
was so interwoven and incidental to the activities carried on 
in the study of social life, scientific observations, and experi- 
ments as to make it impossible to differentiate or calculate at 
all the amount given to each of these subjects. 

The physical health of the children was constantly con- 
sidered. Until the spring of 1897, the work of this department 


was carried on at the University. Later, a large hall in the 
school was equipped and used for plays and games of the 
younger children, the rhythmic drills with wands and dumb- 
bells, and the apparatus work or basket ball of the older groups. 
There was constant supervision of individual children and 
their special needs. 

In addition to its relation to the grace and rhythm of bodily 
movement music was also always included as a course of 
study for all groups. This study was in accord with the methods 
of Calvin B. Cady. Its purpose was to develop the musical in- 
telligence of the pupils by aiding them to form and express 
complete mental images of music. Music is idea expressed in 
tone, and a simple melodic phrase is intellectually and musi- 
cally a complete idea which must be grasped and gradually 
unfolded by the child into its essential elements o melody, 
rhythm and harmony. 

This curriculum pertains to the School from 1896 to 1898 
and represents what has been referred to as the "early period 
of the developing curriculum." In this experimental school, 
the concern was to discover not alone what subject-matter 
suited each stage of developing child life, but also to see what 
could be done with materials and activities never before used 
in classes of small children. The use of these spontaneous ac- 
tivities in the classroom necessitated great freedom for change, 
for omission, or for repetition later found necessary. As a 
result, the school program was always more or less tentative 
in character, and shifts in it were frequently made. Certain 
subjects were found excellent lor use at this or that age or 
with this or that group or teacher. Others proved unsuitable. 
There was a continual change and revision of both subject- 
matter and method on the basis of experience and in accord 
with the tastes and training of the teacher and the resources 
of the environment and equipment. 


The practical experience of the School so far had demon- 
strated that there were certain stages in child growth. These 


were never sharply defined, but merged into and overlapped one 
another. Certain needs and abilities characteristic of these 
stages were recognized, and a beginning had been made in 
selecting activities and skills appropriate to those needs and 
abilities. Experiment had proven that those studies which had 
been of fundamental value to the child's expression had also 
enlarged his mental horizons and carried him on into deeper 
living. As the result of such a critical interpretation of the 
practices of the School from the point of view of both the 
teacher and the learner, a clearly defined principle of mental 
growth emerged which was of primary importance in under- 
standing the needs of the growing child and in planning a 
program which should answer to those needs. 

The statement made by Mr. Dewey of this principle of the 
psychological order of development is the basis of the subse- 
quent organization and administration of the School, both as 
to the more permanent groupings of the children and the 
choice of its subject-matter and method. 9 

In the organization of the Elementary School, three stages or 
periods are recognized. These, however, pass into one another so 
gradually that the children are not made conscious of the changes. 
The first extends from the age of four to eight or eight and a half 
years. In this period the connection of the school life with that of 
the home and neighborhood is, of course, especially intimate. The 
children are largely occupied with direct social and outgoing modes 
of action/ with doing and telling. There is relatively little attempt 
made at intellectual formulation, conscious reflection, or command 
of technical methods. As, however, there is continual growth in the 
complexity of work and in the responsibilities which the children are 
capable of assuming, distinct problems gradually emerge in such a 
way that the mastery of special methods is necessary. 

Hence in the second period (from eight to ten), emphasis is put 
upon securing ability to read, write, handle, number, etc., not in 
themselves, but as necessary helps and adjuncts in relation to the 
more direct modes of experience. Also in the various forms of hand- 
work and of science, more and more conscious attention is paid to 
the proper ways of doing things, methods of reaching results, as 
distinct from the simple doing itself. This is the special period for 
securing knowledge of the rules and technique of work. 

9 "The University Elementary School, General Outline of Scheme of 
Work," University Record, December 30, 1898. 


In the third period, lasting until the thirteenth year, the skill thus 
acquired is utilized in application to definite problems of investiga- 
tion and reflection, leading on to recognition of the significance and 
necessity of generalizations. When this latter point is reached, the 
period of distinctly secondary education may be said to have begun. 
This third period is also that of the distinctive differentiation of the 
various lines of work, history and science, the various forms of 
science, etc. from one another. So far as the methods and tools em- 
ployed in each have been mastered, so far is the child able to take 
up the pursuit each by itself, making it, in some sense, really a study. 
If the first period has given the child a common and varied back- 
ground, if the second has introduced him to control of reading, 
writing, numbering, manipulating materials, etc., as instruments of 
inquiry, he is now ready in the third for a certain amount of speciali- 
zation without danger of isolation or artificiality. 

The picture of the first two years of this experiment in edu- 
cation is somewhat blurred, for it was a period of quest, a try- 
ing out first of this trail, then of that. Many of these trails 
were blind; failure was as frequent as success; but out of the 
seeming confusion grew a skeleton pattern for the courses and 
method of the later years. Out of it also came a clearer under- 
standing of the child mind, its functioning, its changing powers 
and interests. Out of it grew a clearer picture of education as 
beginning, continuing and ending with lifea unified and 
rhythmic experience out of which is born and nourished day 
by day the individual life of the spirit which is die child, the 

Subsequent experience revised the early statement of the 
psychological order of development after the eleventh year. 
The School's experience with the third stage of growth and 
the beginnings of the secondary period was not long enough 
to warrant much positive information after the thirteenth 
year. 10 The growth stages are covered by the chapters in this 
volume as follows: 

10 The age of the children in any group may be found by adding three 
to the number of the group, for example: Group Iage 4 years; Group 
II age 5 years, etc. 



Chapter IV. Groups I and II (4-5 years) 

Chapter V. Group III (6 years) 


Chapter VI. Group IV (7 years) 

Chapter VII. Group V (8 years) 


Chapter VIII. Group VI (9 years) 

Chapter IX. Group VII (10 years) 


Chapter X. Group VIII (11 years) 

Chapter XI, Group IX (12 years) 


Chapter XII. Group X (13 years) 

Chapter XIII. Group XI (*4-i5 years) 




IE setting for the youngest children of the school was not 
ideal from the point of view of convenience, modern equip- 
ment, or exposure. It was, however, sufficiently like the chil- 
dren's own homes to give a sense of familiarity to their first 
away-from-home experience. The home of the school, a large 
dwelling-house on Ellis Avenue, faced east. It had a wide 
angled, covered porch, but the large living-room, most suitable 
for a kindergarten room in other respects, lay on the northern 
side of the house. This very fact was turned to an advantage 
for it made the teacher more alert to the need of many out- 
door excursions for play on the porch or in the yard, trips 
to the park and its great gardens, to the Museum, or just on 
walks that were filled with talk of the children's own observa- 
tions. The room had great eastern windows and a fireplace. 
Owing to lack of funds, it was rather sparsely furnished aside 
from the tables and chairs necessary for work and the daily 
luncheon. The very bareness of the room, however, seemed to 
please the children, for it gave them the freedom for their 
plays and games often lacking in their home environment. At 
its rear was the old library of the house. Some of the shelves in 
this large room were kept for the school reference books; 
others were adapted for extra locker space for the little chil- 
dren. By happy chance, therefore, the dressing and undressing, 
the taking off and putting on of overshoes, and all the daily 
activities incident to the coming in and going out of little 
children, so important to their gradual development of con- 
trol and independence, were carried on in their own quarters. 



Such were the quarters of the sub-primary department that 
opened for the first time in the fall of 1898 with eight children. 
In January of the next year, the number grew to twenty. The 
children were divided into two groups, the four-year-olds, 
Group I, and the five-year-olds, Group II. The number of boys 
and of girls was about equal. Daily attendance in each group 
averaged about nine. Later the enrolment of the sub-primary 
department was increased to twenty-four in order to bring the 
average attendance to ten or eleven. These children were not 
exceptional save as they represented to an unusual degree 
parents of various professions whose confidence in the plan 
and its sponsors had aroused a hope and a desire for this dif- 
ferent and more social type of training for their children. The 
daily program was as follows: 

9:00- 9:30 Hand-work, 

9:0010:00. . . .Songs and stories. 

10:00-10:30 Marching and games such as "Follow 

the Leader" while the room was being 
aired and personal wants cared for. 

10:40-11:15 Luncheon. 

11:15-11:45 Dramatic play and rhythms. 

This order was not a fixed one. It varied with the work the 
children were doing. Sometimes an outdoor excursion to 
places near-by was taken. The aim was to have a period of 
relaxation follow a period of fixed interest, so as not to keep 
them at one kind of work too long. The periods of hand- 
work included constructive work, play with blocks, drawing, 
painting, modeling in clay, work in the sand, or any suitable 
medium of expression. 

Mid-morning luncheon was served every day. The children 
took entire charge of setting the table, serving, waiting upon 
each other, and of washing and putting away the dishes. 
The menu consisted of one tablespoon apiece of a prepared 
cereal, served with cream and sugar, a cracker and a small 
glass of milk, or cocoa on cold days. This menu served twenty- 
four children and three teachers for $5.00 a month. Fruit was 
served to children whose parents found the above menu ob- 



The first year the teacher in charge, 1 who had previously 
taught the primary department of a public school, also di- 
rected the reading and writing of some of the older groups. 
A year later she married, and a graduate of the Free Kinder- 
garten Association of Armour Institute took over the direction 
of the groups with the help of two assistants. 2 These teachers 
in charge of this new sub-primary department had their own 
problems. In the light of a new but partial understanding of 
the little child as a growing person, both courage and faith 
were needed. They had need of courage to discard whatever 
they had learned of old methods and materials that could not 
be adapted to the sort of teaching disclosed by a new under- 
standing of mind in the making. They had need of faith to 
trust for guidance to the child's own selective power in and 
instinctive control of the activities induced by his surround- 
ings. The watchword was "continuity," in order to avoid 
breaks in the child's experience which would retard, hamper, 
or frustrate the spontaneous expression of his intellectual life 
his thought in action. 

The small child of four, who with others, faced the teacher 
of these youngest groups, feels himself a person, like other 
children of his age. He has long since passed out of the short 
period when instinct and simple emotion have control. The 
tentative beginnings of his intellectual life are well established. 
He has ridden rough shod over the indulgence and correction 
of his home guardian, has chosen what he liked, and rejected 
what he disliked; he has seen the way he would go and the 
thing he would do, and has both gone that way and done 
that thing. The consequent pleasurable experience of these 
first choices, these breaks away from his mother's plan and of 
following his own will-o'-the-wisp desires, have given him a new 
sense of freedom and of the power for independent action. 

1 Florence La Victoire. 

2 Georgia Scates, Grace Dolling, Jessie Taylor, pupils of Anna Bryan, 
head of Free Kindergarten Association of Armour Institute, who took an 
active interest in developing the sub-primary curriculum. 


He has tasted the apple of life and found it to his liking. He 
has, to some extent, achieved his own intellectual ends, such 
as they are, and has formed his own habit of judging for him- 
self. 3 "He has a method of thinking, as inevitably his own as 
was that of his mother or that of any other caretaker who made 
him see his own way by compelling him to react against her 
way." The teacher's problem was to simplify and clarify this 
passing out from the small center of the narrow and intense 
life of the family, where instinct and emotions have been the 
guides to action, into the larger and more diffused activities, 
which demand intellectual control. How could she make their 
present living a continuation of the old, so that it would con- 
tinually lead on to a new and larger experience? 

As play is the child's natural avenue for expression, a teacher 
must consider his knowledge of the physical and social world 
about him with its materials and relationships. Play is neither 
purely psychical, nor purely physical, but involves the expres- 
sion of imagery through movement, with a social end in view. 
It is not to be identified with anything which he externally 
does. It rather designates his mental attitude as a whole. His 
sensations of color, sound, taste, or touch all function in order 
to carry on, assist, or reinforce this play, and his mind naturally 
selects material with reference to its maintenance and con- 
tinuation. 4 "Play is the free movement, the interplay, of all 
the child's powers, thoughts, and physical movements, em- 
bodying in a satisfying form his own images and interests. At 
this age, he is still so unskilled in action that he practically 
lives in a world of imaginative play which comes through the 
cluster of suggestions, reminiscences, and anticipations that 
gather about the things he uses. The more natural and straight- 
forward these are, the more definite basis there is for calling 
up and holding together all the allied suggestions which his 
imaginative play really represents. The simple cooking, dish- 
washing, dusting, etc., which the children do are no more 

s Alice C. Dewey, "The Place of the Kindergarten," The Elementary 
School Teacher, January, 1902. 

* John Dewey, "Froebel's Educational Principles," The Elementary School 
Record, June, 1900. 


prosaic or utilitarian to them than would be, say, the game 
of the Five Knights. To children, these occupations of every- 
day life are surcharged with a sense of the mysterious values 
that attach to whatever their elders are concerned with. The 
materials, then, must be real, as direct and straightforward, 
as opportunity permits. The house life in its setting of house, 
furniture, and utensils,, together with the occupations there 
carried on, offers material which is in a direct and real rela- 
tionship to the child, and which he naturally tends to repro- 
duce in imaginative form." 

The program was relatively unambitious compared with 
that of many kindergartens, but it may be questioned whether 
there are not certain positive advantages to be seen in this 
limitation to activities that are so fundamental to human liv- 
ing that they continually lead out into new fields and open up 
new paths for exploration. Each activity, because of its in- 
timate relation to the needs of life, calls for expansion and 
enlargement, creates a demand for further activity, reveals a 
further need, and suggests something to satisfy that need, 
brings in new controls, new materials, and more refined modes 
of activity. The little child's liking for novelty and variety, his 
need of renewed stimulus, are satisfied and supplied with no 
sacrifice of the unity of his experience. 

The life of the school touched civic and industrial life at 
many points. Many concerns were brought in, when desirable, 
without going beyond the unity of the main topic which helped 
to develop and foster in the child a sense of continuity and 
security, a feeling of at oneness with life which is at the basis 
of attention and fundamental to all intellectual growth. From 
the child's standpoint, this unity lay in the subject-matterin 
the fact that he was always dealing with one thing namely, 
home life. Emphasis was continually passing from one phase 
of this life to another; one occupation after another, one piece 
of furniture after another, one relation after another received 
attention. They all, however, contributed to one and the same 
mode of living, although bringing now this feature, now that 
into prominence. 
Upon the whole, constructive or "build-up" work (with of 


course the proper alternation of story, song, and game con- 
nected so far as desirable with the ideas involved in the con- 
struction) seemed better fitted than anything else to secure 
two lectors initiation in the child's own impulse, and termina- 
tion upon a higher plane. It brought the child into contact 
with a great variety of material such as wood, tin, leather, or 
yarn. It supplied a motive for using these materials in real 
ways, instead of going through exercises having no meaning 
save a remote symbolic one. It called into play alertness of the 
senses and acuteness of observation. It demanded dear-cut 
imagery of the ends to be accomplished and ingenuity and in- 
vention in planning. In addition, it made necessary concen- 
trated attention and personal responsibility in execution, while 
the results were in such tangible form that the child was led 
to judge his own work and improve his standards. 5 

It was taken for granted that the little child is highly imita- 
tive and open to suggestions, that his crude powers and im- 
mature consciousness need to be continually enriched and 
directed through right channels. It was understood that the 
psychological function of both suggestion and imitation is to 
reinforce and to help out, not to initiate. Both must serve as 
added stimuli to bring forth more adequately what the child 
is already blindly striving to do. It was accordingly adopted 
as a general principle that no activity should be originated by 
imitation. The start must come from the child through sug- 
gestion; help may then be supplied in order to assist him to 
realize more definitely what it is he wants. This help was not 
given in the form of a model to copy in action, but through 
the medium of suggestions to improve and express what he was 
doing. The same principles applied even more strongly to 

s It is a pleasure again to acknowledge our great indebtedness to Miss 
Anna Bryan and her able staff of the Free Kindergarten Association, for 
numberless suggestions regarding both materials and objects for con- 
structive -work. Our obligations are also due to Miss La Victoire who 
inaugurated the sub-primary program in this school, and who, coming to 
the kindergarten the previous year from successful primary work, was 
highly effective in affiliating the kindergarten to the spirit of the best 
modern primary work. In later years Miss Georgia Scates, Miss Dolling, 
and Miss Elsie Port as well as others trained by Miss Bryan, all aided in 
developing the sub-primary program of the school. 


what is called dictation work. Nothing, however, seemed more 
absurd than to suppose that there was no middle term between 
leaving a child to his own unguided fancies and likes and con- 
trolling his activities by a formal succession of dictated direc- 
tions. Neither was it thought that the teacher should not 
suggest anything to the child until he has consciously expressed 
a want in that direction. On the contrary, it was believed that 
a sympathetic teacher is quite likely to know more clearly than 
the child himself what his own instincts are and mean. Such 
a teacher can discriminate between use of imitation and sug- 
gestion so external and unreal to the child as to be thoroughly 
non-psychological, and use so justified through organic rela- 
tion to the child's own activities as to fit in naturally and in- 
evitably as instruments to help a child carry out his own wishes 
and ideals. In organic relations, images, in process of expres- 
sion, are compelled to extend and relate themselves to other 
images, in order to secure proper expression. This expansion 
or growth of imagery is the medium of realization and is se- 
cured when the materials of expression are provided and the 
end to which these are the means, is recognized by the child. 6 
Mr. Dewey points out in this connection that the process of 
learning, under such conditions, conforms to psychological 
conditions, in so far as it is indirect. Attention is not upon 
the idea of learning, but upon the accomplishing of a real and 
intrinsic purpose the expression of an idea. 


The first days in school were spent in getting acquainted. 7 
Each child finds out through talk and play with other children 
that they too have homes where many of the same familiar 

A teacher could supply the requisite stimuli and needed materials 
for expression. A suggestion of a playhouse that came from seeing objects 
that had already been made to furnish one or from seeing other children 
at work, was often quite sufficient definitely to direct the activities of a 
normal child of five. 

7 Statements in regard to the children of four and five cover a period 
of five years, from 1898 to June 1903. All other statements that cover an 
experience with children of nine and ten, embrace a space of seven years. 


things are done with this difference or that. The teacher finds 
that the children under her care will learn much from each 
other and sees in it both a help and a problem. Every one soon 
began to have a feeling that here was a place belonging to 
him, where simple ways were without haste and pressure. In 
his own home, adults, always engaged in their own pursuits, 
had hurried him in his play. Here, he found he could play 
as he wished and take his own time, as long as he did not block 
others' play. Here, also, he could express freely the natural 
social interest in other children normal to his age. In one 
group for example, the children grew acquainted with each 
other and their surroundings by telling of their summer ex- 
periences. One little boy made an old-fashioned well like one 
on the farm he had visited, and another child made a basket 
with eggs like the one he had used. They soon were grouped 
or grouped themselves according to their favorite plays or 
games or way of expressing themselves, and these groups closely 
coincided with the actual ages of the children. The four-year- 
old children were satisfied with mere activity, regardless of 
means and ends. At first, this age preferred to play alone, but 
with skillful management the climbing, jumping, running, and 
rolling were guided into group games where the children 
learned to accommodate themselves to others and to express 
themselves in the presence of others. 


During the early weeks, both groups took many walks in the 
parks where their attention was directed to the homes of the 
birds, the insects, and the animals. They noticed the empty 
birds nests, brought some home, and talked of where the birds 
were going at this time of year and why. The gathered autumn 
leaves and drew them with paints or colored crayons. These 
expressions gave many clues to individual interests and talents. 
The repeated emphasis on home experiences loosened tongues, 
and the outside world came creeping in. Each child's own 
home life was used as a basis to build talks about the other 
children's homes and families, and the various persons helping 


in the occupations of the household. The family's dependence 
upon the daily visit of the milkman, grocer, iceman, postman, 
and the occasional visits of the coalman and others was also 

At this age, children are forthright into action, and an idea 
straightway becomes drama. At first little or nothing suffices 
for the setting of the stage. Any folded piece of paper is ade- 
quate for the postman's letter. The child's fertile imagination 
at first requires none of the props and aids of stage setting, 
properties, or costume. Very soon, however, his idea enlarges 
and is translated through action into the postman's cap, his 
bag, the mail box, or the two-wheeled mail cart of those clays 
drawn by a paper horse. Again the horizon shifts as new ideas 
rise over the border line of consciousness. The child wants to 
go further with the mail man than the corner post-box. The 
mail man takes letters from the box. "Where does he take 
them? To the post-office! Let's go." From the many avenues 
along which a little child can journey out into a larger world, 
the teacher must help to choose those trails that are not blind, 
but lead into main thoroughfares of thought and action. 

In the autumn, when the activities of the world of both 
nature and man are inspired and influenced by the need of 
preparing for the cold days of winter, the thoughts of little 
children are easily directed to the seasonal changes and the 
necessary occupations which they cause. It was easy for the 
children in these groups to see the connection between the 
squirrel in the park, busy storing nuts in the hollow tree, and 
their mothers preserving fruit in their own kitchens. 

But the child's many kinds of food, articles of clothing, and 
large and complicated house required many questions. Many 
of the answers to the latter seemed to open paths into one main 
avenue which led back to the farm. They made a trip to a 
farm and saw the orchards, the harvesting of the fruit, and 
the fields with their shocks of corn. This visit was the beginning 
of many activities, which varied, of course, with teacher, chil- 
dren, and circumstances. Part of the group played grocery 
store and sold fruit and sugar for the jelly-making of the others. 


Some were clerks, some delivery boys, others mothers, and some 
made the grocery wagons. The clerks were given measuring 
cups with which to measure the sugar and cranberries and 
paper to wrap the packages to take home. This led under 
guidance into a discussion of the large storehouse. It was 
considered as a roomy place where a great deal of fruit could 
be kept. From time to time it supplied the grocery store which 
held only enough for a few days. A wholesale house was con- 
structed out of a big box. Elevators would be necessary, a 
child volunteered, for storehouses have so many floors; and 
these were made from long narrow corset boxes, a familiar 
wrapping in every household of that day. 

Early cold days made it easy and natural for another group 
to decide that one of the necessary things for the mother to 
do was to get the warm clothing ready for the family. Out 
of this talk developed a play of the dry-goods store, in which 
three classes joined together. The children planned to play and 
decided the parts which grew in scope from day to day. Several 
children were the mothers coming to the dry-goods store to 
shop. Others were the clerks who arranged and decorated 
the windows with various materials. The mothers chose those 
they thought most suitable for warm clothing. All selected 
warm colors and judged of material largely by feeling it. A 
table was taken for a counter and on it were put scissors, thread, 
thimbles, and needles all that would be needed for the making 
of clothing. After buying the material at the store, the mothers 
tried to match it in thread, in tape, and different kinds of 
silk. These attempts were interesting to watch. A third group 
of children made street cars out of chairs on which the mothers 
could ride to the store. One child was the conductor and 
punched the tickets, and a triangle was used for a car bell. Or 
again, two of the children became horse and wagon and de- 
livered the goods, while another child was the bundle wrapper. 
They enjoyed the game so much that it was played all over 
again the next day. 

Still another group approached the occupations of the house- 
hold from a different angle. In the discussion (and aided by 


suggestion) the children decided that mother has so much to 
do that she must have some one to assist in the general work 
of the house. They then organized and dramatized the work 
of washing and ironing, constructing the necessary utensils 
as they went along. The work for the two groups varied little 
save that the older children did more of their own construction. 
In making their scrub boards, for example, these children 
themselves measured the required lengths with rulers, and 
were also able to do their own sawing. Most of these children 
could count to fourteen and could understand the figures on 
the rulers. 

It was found that the preparation for, the eating and clear- 
ing away of the mid-morning luncheon gave a continuous set 
of activities affording many opportunities for self-management 
and initiative in which the youngest child gradually came to 
competent control of the whole procedure. Each child must 
help in preparing for a group action. The counting of the 
chairs was a coveted task. Each chair was named for each child 
many times until the idea dawned that one can count the chil- 
dren and then count the chairs. This new method gradually 
extended to the counting of the spoons and other necessary 
articles, and a familiarity with the use of numbers in counting 
was gained. It was useful also to know that if you give one- 
half an apple to each child, four apples are enough for eight 
children, or if one cupful of flaked wheat is enough for two 
children, four cups must be used for eight. 

Many operations difficult for small persons to surmount grew 
out of table setting. There were many materials to handle- 
chairs, cups, plates, spoons, napkins and food. They must learn 
with more and more success to carry properly, to place, to pour, 
to serve, and to wash and wipe the dishes. In all these processes, 
the thinking done and the decisions made involved coopera- 
tion in a project with a social end. The giving and receiving 
of directions required definiteness of speech and courtesy of 
manner in social relationships. To play host and hostess in- 
volved consideration of others, for equals in age and experi- 
ence as well as adults. Interest was always evident, and growth 
in development was shown by an increased sense of responsi- 


bility. 8 On great occasions, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, 
the menu for the luncheon was elaborated and extended to 
include the actual cooking of one food, such as cranberries 
or pop corn. When popping corn the children's apparent in- 
terest was not in why the corn popped, but in the kind of dish 
to use, how to hold it over the fire, and most of all in the 
popped corn, the ticklish process of its sharing and the delight- 
ful one of its consumption. 

Toward the end of the second year, when getting the lunch, 
certain children, generally the older ones, began to ask why 
they couldn't always cook the cereal and to show an interest 
in the material of different dry cereals which they served. This 
interest in material and competency to plan and carry through 
alone the operations necessary for the mid-morning luncheon 
were some of the indications that a child was ready to under- 
take the more intricate processes of cooking, which, in this 
school, was a definitely developed subject-matter. Its scientific 
implications were easily emphasized with all ages, because of 
the natural social end of the luncheon. Five years of experi- 
ence resulted in the decision to postpone systematic use of 
cooking with heat to the six-year groups, when interest in 
experimentation as consciously planned and directed experi- 
ment begins to develop. With younger children, it was another 
case of skimming the cream from an activity which might be 
used to great advantage at a later period when desire to ex- 
periment with an end in view had awakened. 9 

The program for these groups was always flexible. It was 
adapted to the seasons and to special events such as Thanks- 
giving and Christmas. Birthdays were celebrated when one 
group entertained the other or an older group. At some sea- 

8 The luncheon was generally prepared and cleared away in twenty 
minutes and in consequence, entailed on the part of the teacher just the 
kind of setting that would prevail in any well-ordered home where utensils 
and material were chosen and arranged for a young child's use. 

a "Overestimation of the child's ability is drawing on the future. It 
puts in the child's way material for which he is not ripe and is sure to 
bring on that attitude of indifference which is characteristic of that 
unfortunate being known as the blase kindergarten child." Alice C. Dewey, 
"The Place of the Kindergarten in Education/' Elementary School Teacher, 
January, 1902. 


son of tie year, usually the second quarter, the work included 
the building of a play house. This was a group enterprise. 
Cottages with one or two rooms, the smallest known to the 
children, were made of blocks. Day by day details were added. 
Streets were made with sidewalks to connect with other streets. 
Lamp-posts were added and the stepping stones across the 
streets. These ideas were the children's own and developed 
without direct suggestion. When interest flagged, they were 
aided (by prearrangement of material and situation) to carry 
on into a new phase of the idea. The streets and sidewalks of 
their toy town finished to their satisfaction, a hint was suffi- 
cient to direct attention and effort to the interior arrangements 
of their cottages. They outlined the rooms with six-inch blocks 
and with smaller ones placed in them the necessary furniture. 
Another group of children cut their houses from brown paper 
and drew the sidewalks. 

As they worked there was talk of the wood that was used 
in the construction of real cottages. Speculation was rife as to 
where it came from and its many uses. Answers came easily 
tables and chairs and the woodwork in the houses were sug- 
gested. Finally, one child volunteered that trees were made of 
wood also. Some one else then suggested that trees could be 
chopped down to get the wood. These details taken from the 
records serve to show how the self-originated ideas of the chil- 
dren were allowed to develop into self-expression and to extend 
and enlarge into larger and more complicated execution. Only 
enough aid was given to avoid "blocks" in expression and the 
consequent dulling of interest and waste of effort in a "slowed 
up" process. 

An expedition to a hardware store to see what tools a car- 
penter might use to build a house made one child want to 
build his own house to take home. Large boxes were used. The 
older children measured and cut all the paper for the walls. 
The little children tacked down the matting on the floors, made 
a table for the dining-room by fastening legs on a block. For 
chairs, they nailed a back to a cube and tacked on a leather seat. 
The older children made tables and chairs from uncut wood, 
which they measured and sawed by themselves. When finished, 


these were shellacked and the seats upholstered with leatherette 
and cotton. Some of the children painted the outside of die 
house so that its walls should "be protected from the weather." 
Inside it was papered "for ornament/' and the necessary furni- 
ture for each room decided upon, made from cardboard, wood, 
or tin, and put into place. One of the results of this phase of 
the project was a gain in each child's ability to carry out his 
own ideas. He was put to it to execute and to show individual 
results. He thus secured the feel of accomplishment according 
to the measure of his success. 

All the hand-work of these groups involved the use of large 
muscles. That of Group II was a little more advanced than 
that of Group I. The latter, for example, were given two pieces 
of wood to make a chair one, 4x1 inches, the other a i x i inch 
cube. Their problem was to find a way of putting them to- 
gether. Group II, however, was given a cube and a long strip 
of wood which they measured and sawed to length, before 
constructing the chair. A leather cushion for the chair was 
given to the younger children, cut the right size to fit the chair; 
while the older children were given a large piece from which 
to cut the cushion to their own measurements. This work 
was given slowly, a few steps at a time, not too closely con- 
nected, but in such a way that each step appealed to the child 
as a fairly complete whole in itself. Recognition also was given 
to the desire all children have time to play with what they 
have made. 


At the end of each quarter, each group teacher reported on 
the work of the group. These reports were for the information 
of her colleagues and those directing the experiment; they 
enabled the writer to evaluate her series of activities and in 
the light of its success or failure, to plan her succeeding pro- 
gram. Extracts from such an evaluation of a quarter's activi- 
ties, in terms of the gain in development made by the children 
who engaged in them, may help to point out how necessary 
such reports were to the success of the entire experiment. These 
classroom findings became the basis of informal and seminar 


discussion out of which came the revision that made for what- 
ever progress in education this experiment may have achieved. 

10 Our chief aim has been to help each child in Group I to gain 
control of himself and the few simple materials at hand. In reality, 
this is the beginning of his mastery of the whole material world. The 
environment is new to each, likewise the social relations. It took 
some time to become accustomed to both in order to adjust to both. 
As a group, they have begun to recognize to some extent each other's 
rights and to feel a certain amount of responsibility for keeping the 
whole kindergarten in good condition. They have gained some 
control over their own bodies, especially their hands. This is proved 
by their ability to arrange materials, build with blocks, and to con- 
struct a few, simple objects of paper, tea-lead, or clay. In this work 
and play, they have used water-colors to express their ideas. The 
drawing so far can scarcely be called drawing; it is mostly an oc- 
casional test of the impressions the child has received and of the 
skill he is acquiring in the way of giving expression along these 
lines. The modeling in clay is beginning to assume a somewhat more 
definite shape, and the results are sometimes in accord with the 
names they bear. For the most part, there is still more pleasure in 
the mere handling of the material, and the name is discovered after 
the object is finished. 

The work with Group II has been somewhat more definite so far 
as progress is concerned. The children have all gained considerable 
skill in building with blocks and have a pretty good idea of the right 
position and relation of these blocks to produce the desired effect. 
Free play has been given and then directed when they have shown 
signs of finding their own limitations in the use of material. Some- 
times, each child does his separate piece of work in his own way; 
sometimes, each does his own as all of the rest do theirs; and some- 
times, all work together, each doing a part on some one thing. This 
latter plan is not altogether successful at the beginning, but the 
children later get much pleasure out of such cooperative work and 
play. The only models used for work in clay and color so far have 
been fruits and vegetables. These have been fairly well reproduced. 
The drawing has been interesting in its different stages, but progress 
is not marked. Much has been from imagination, with an occasional 
reproduction of experience such as their visit to the baker or the 
blacksmith shop. The games have grown from those which give 
pleasure through the mere exercising of the body to those which 
deal a little more with the imagination and the dramatization of 
actual experience. This has enlarged their ideas of social relations. 

Each child begins to feel in a small way the pleasure that comes 

10 Group Teachers, Bertha Dolling, Elsie Port. 


with sharing, as he relates his experience in the morning circle or 
brings from home something in which all are interested. Sometimes 
this is a story or a song, a book or a pet toy; whatever it is, they are 
all learning in a sweet, unconscious way to give and have pleasure 
in giving. The more timid children are beginning to offer a remark 
or two, and this is encouraged as aften as possible. The spirit of 
helpfulness is often shown in the arranging of the chairs or dusting 
before kindergarten, in putting on their own wraps as far as possible, 
and in helping others who need it. 

Some number work has been done with all of the children, more 
in the second group than in the first. In Group I, each child can 
count beads, children, blocks, or other objects up to six. With one 
or two when six is reached, there is uncertainty and indefiniteness. 
The finger will touch two or three beads while counting one, or will 
count four or five while touching two. With the larger number of 
children, however, sixteen and seventeen seem to be the limit. 
Two is about as large a number as they try to handle in combina- 
tions. They will make number lessons for themselves, studying two 
beads of one color, two of another, or perhaps two of one form and 
one of another. In Group II perhaps one or two of the children can 
count to fifty or one hundred, but the actual comprehension of 
number with the majority of the group stops with twenty or twenty- 
one. 11 The group works with twos, threes and fours, and can make 
simple combinations of these numbers. 


A spirit of freedom and mutual respect on the part of both 
teachers and children was as apparent in these groups as in 
the older. Each child came to see that orderly self-direction 
in his activity was essential to group effort: he learned to stop 
pounding because it interfered with the group's story-telling, 
even though he didn't choose to join the activity of the group. 
The "good" way of doing things developed in each situation, 
and the best order of proceeding with the activity was formu- 
lated by teachers and children as a result of group thought. 
Therefore, "discipline," so-called, was not from above, but was 
evolved as a result of the participation by both teacher and 
children in a group activity, and a school spirit developed 
which fostered social sensitivity and conscience. The teacher's 

11 This limit was probably due to the fact that the class numbered 


part in the developing play of these years is to see that the child 
really carries out his self-initiated game in such a way that, 
without unnecessary aid from her, the play proceeds in orderly 
development to its finish. This aid takes the form of an in- 
telligent shared interest which when necessary removes "blocks" 
in the child's action so that it is free and unhampered to follow 
the gleam of his own impulses. 12 The purpose was that the flow 
of dynamic energy from these native desires to do and to make 
should be used to attain that measure of skill in action which 
would enable him to accomplish his end without undue and 
discouraging effort. The satisfaction of this accomplishment 
would then carry over and give rise to the new gleam of a 
larger purpose. In order that this flow of power and purpose 
might be uninterrupted, it was necessary that the activities be 
continuous. Those of one day or week or period of develop- 
ment must grow out of the preceding and into the succeeding 
one, in order that the native powers and acquired skills of 
every child may be continuously stimulated and built into 
habits of acting whidi can cope with the changing conditions 
of his activity. This was an ideal in the school. Needless to say, 
there were often breaks in this desired continuity; subject- 
matter that did not carry the idea on nor the child's original 
impulse over into the next period of growth. Discussion as 
to reasons for this failure led to elimination or revision. 

In the process of getting what he wanted, the child learned 
many things as to the ways and means of getting it. Little by 
little in this school of experiencing, he was taught control. 
His impulse to act grew less immediate. He schooled himself 
to wait, to think, and plan a bit before acting. Success and 
failure in dealing with means in regard to ends exercised his 
judgment of the quality and value of means as appropriate 
to purpose. When the conditions were right, and the let and 
hindrance were in the right proportion for the continuous 
development of his action, he gradually built up a background 

12 These "blocks" occur often for reasons hidden in the child's past, 
sometimes because ot interference of unsocially developed children who 
get "a kick" out of interruption per se. 


of both satisfactory and unsatisfactory experience, which gave 
him a basis for wider choice and more definite preference. 

Ideally, then, he was well started in his growing process. 

As a member of a group, he had learned the rudiments of co- 
operation, and something of the pleasure of sharing. He had 
experienced the satisfaction of doing and of making the con- 
crete image of his idea. The latter (ideally) self-originated, was 
accomplished largely through imitation and guided by sug- 
gestion. Little by little, however, he had been thrown on his 
own to choose his play or the material with which to develop 
his thought, and he was already beginning to investigate and 
experiment, to use "the test and prove" method. In the process 
he had learned, by succeeding and failing, the subsequent pleas- 
urable or disagreeable sensations, the satisfactory or unsatis- 
factory feelings. Thus, he built up a background of experience 
that had depth as well as range and quality as well as efficiency. 
His were the rewards of a construction that truly expressed 
his purpose, the pleasurable sensations of the sand swiftly 
dropping through the fingers, the softness of the easily molded 
clay, the bright color of the paints vividly reproducing the 
mental image, the melody of the songs, or the rhythm of the 
dances. All blended into a living and expressing that was truly 
artistic in its quality, however crude its product. 





' ROUP III averaged about seventeen in number. Their 
headquarters were in one of the best rooms in the house, which 
also served as the biological laboratory. This room had an 
eastern and southern exposure, with a big bay-window, closet, 
and alcove. Here stood the vivarium and aquarium that pro- 
vided homes for the many living things plant and animal- 
collected by the children. 

In this room the children of Group III spent an average of 
one and a half to two hours a day. This time was used for 
social exchange of their ideas and plans and the dramatization 
of the occupations they were undertaking. A blackboard and 
a sand-table were available and free floor space for games. The 
group was divided for the work necessitating individual at- 
tention, but went as a whole to assembly and chorus singing. 
The entire group joined twice a week with the seven-year- 
olds in plays and games, outdoors and in the gymnasium. Two 
or three times a week, they returned to the sub-primary rooms 
for a half hour of play and music with the younger children. 

Group III was in charge of a teacher trained in science. She 
was responsible for the physical condition of the children, and 
the parents came to her for consultation. She had an assistant. 1 
The school period for these children was from nine to twelve, 
a half-hour longer than that of the sub-primary groups. There 
was no mid-morning luncheon as their going about the school 

i Katherine Andrews, Wynne Lackersteen. 



and participating in the cooking gave them the necessary op- 
portunities of a social nature. Seven years o experimentation 
with activities for this age resulted in a choice of present day 
occupations as the most suitable subject-matter. The general 
method of procedure was the same with all groups. Ten to 
fifteen minutes were always given at the opening of school 
to group conversation. What had been done was talked over 
and the reasons for success or failure were brought out; plans 
for the day were made; jobs were distributed. Each child served 
in turn as leader. The written program was pinned to him. This 
was for the guidance of adults in a case of a temporary change 
of rooms. The children usually carried the program well in 
mind, although there were interesting individual variations 
and ability to lead was often used as a test of maturity and 
judgment. At this age (six years), the characteristic attitude is 
still that of play. Therefore, the greater amount of time was 
given to active pursuits, only about two hours a week being 
devoted to things intellectual, the stories and conversations 
about the social activities of the group. The amount of con- 
crete number experience in connection with constructive work 
in the shop, cooking, and number games was unusual for chil- 
dren of this age. This frequent use of number symbols, com- 
bined with the gradual introduction of the symbols of measure- 
ment throughout this year and the next, was considered the 
explanation of these children's rather unusual understanding 
and later use of arithmetical relations and expressions. 2 

Many excursions kept the balance between the children's ob- 
servational attitude and their constructive expression, includ- 
ing music and all forms of art. They were encouraged to look 
in order to use; to return to actual situations and to pictures 

2 A mother of one of the boys in this group recently wrote to the authors 
of this book: "The work done in the school by my boy in arithmetic, 
history, and English especially pleased me. Because they were taught 
arithmetic concretely, not abstractly, they were able to accomplish feats in 
mental arithmetic which to me were phenomenal. They added, subtracted, 
and multiplied fractions as easily as I did whole numbers. Their history 
was made a living thing to them, and the good literature which was read 
to them was suggestive to their mother, as well as very helpful in forming 
in them a taste for good literature." 


for information. In other words, they were encouraged to re- 
search at a six-year-old level. 


Beginning with blocks and floor games where social organiza- 
tion was necessary to carry work through, the children de- 
veloped an astonishing technique in the use of the sand-table 
and all sorts of materials for observed or imagined scenes. One 
objection to a restricted use of the sand-table was that such 
representation often became static. Hence recourse was often 
made to dramatic representation by the children themselves in 
outdoor meetings. For example, the sand-table was transferred, 
in the spring, to the side yard, and fields and gardens were laid 
out on a larger scale and with a greater sense of reality. 

The study of present-day occupations, with its emphasis on 
those supplying the food necessities of life, led this group to 
spend much time in the study of food. In the kitchen-laboratory 
many opportunities occurred for the children to try things out 
for themselves, to handle and manipulate materials and com- 
bine them, and to see and criticize the results of their handi- 
work. At this age, they began also to go to the art studio, al- 
though the impromptu drawing and designing done in the 
group room were often still superintended there by the art 
teacher or her assistant. Two years of games and other activities 
had deepened and widened their knowledge of their immediate 
physical and social world. Each child recognized die similarity 
of his own to other homes, and in some measure, the de- 
pendence of all upon the larger world through the service of 
the many persons who brought letters, food, clothing, or other 
fundamental necessities for daily living. Interest had centered 
primarily in the individual who brought things, not in the 
things he brought. Always it was the person, what he did, how 
he did it, and what came of it that excited their curiosity. Peo- 
ple, and only incidentally their occupations, had been the sub- 
ject of his study, his conversation, and his play. Gradually, 
this interest in people had enlarged, and plays had extended 
to activities that took them out of the home and the immediate 


neighborhood. With this change, the interest -which earlier 
was primarily personal, centering largely in action and the 
feeling induced by action, passed over to an interest in the ob- 
jective results of action; from the milkman carrying the milk 
to the milk, where it comes from, and how it is made. Ideas 
are now best conveyed to the child by the story form, which 
is also his own favorite method of expression. The story at 
this period is the intellectual counterpart of the child's in- 
terest. It must have go, movement, the sense of use and opera- 
tion. It must be a physical whole, holding together a variety 
of persons, things, and incidents, through a common idea that 
enlists the feeling of the child. The latter is seeking "wholes," 
stories that are begun, continued and ended, that are varied 
through episode, enlivened with action, and defined in salient 
features. The study of corn, for example, as something he has 
seen growing, has himself husked, shelled, and perhaps ground 
is highly interesting and exciting to a child of six. Without this 
background of personal experience, a study of corn separated 
from the story of the farm and the farmers, the miller and 
the mill, becomes divested of the glory of its use, the part it 
plays in life and living. 8 

The material selected as the basis for this stage of growth, 
existing social occupations, was designed to meet and feed this 
attitude of this period of development. The typical occupations 
of society at large is a step removed from the child's egoistic, 
self-absorbed interest and yet deals with something personal, 
something which touches him, and which will therefore lure 
him on. Experience proved there are great advantages to be 
gained from a study of natural objects and processes placed in 
a human setting. 


The study of occupations as carried on during the year in- 
volved observation of seeds and their growth, of plants, wood, 

3 "Inspection of things separated from the idea by which they are car- 
ried, analysis of isolated detail of form and structure, neither appeals to nor 
satisfies a little child." John Dewey, "Introduction to the Work of Group 
III," The Elementary School Record, 1900. 


oil, stones, and animals as to phases of structure and function 
of parts or habit of performance, of geographical conditions of 
landscape, climate, and arrangement of land and water. The 
pedagogical problem was to direct the child's power of obser- 
vation, to nurture his sympathetic interest in characteristic 
traits of the world in which he lives, to afford interpreting ma- 
terial for later, more special studies, and yet to supply a carry- 
ing medium for the variety of facts and ideas through the 
dominant, spontaneous emotions and thoughts of the child. 
No separation was made between the social side of the work, 
its concern with people's activities and their mutual depend- 
encies, and the scientific side, its regard for physical facts and 
forces. Such conscious distinction between man and nature is 
the result of later reflection and abstraction and is, therefore, 
far beyond the mental ability of this stage of growth. To force 
it, at this time, will not only fail to engage the child's whole 
mental energy, but will confuse and distract him. To make the 
child study earth, air, or water, bird, beast, or flower apart from 
environment and out of relation to their use by other factors 
in the environment, their function in the total life-process, 
cuts the tie that relates and binds natural facts and forces to 
people and their activities. The child's interest fades for he 
misses the way. His imagination finds no avenue of connection 
that makes object, fact, or process concrete to him. He loses his 
original open, free attitude to natural facts. Nature herself is 
reduced to a mass of meaningless details. In contrast, however, 
when a natural object is clothed with human significance and 
human association, a road lies open from the child's mind to 
the object through the connection of the latter with life itself. 
The unity of life, as it presents itself to the child, thus binds 
together and carries along the different occupations of living. 
The diversity of plants, animals, and geographical conditions; 
drawing, modeling, games, constructive work, numerical cal- 
culations, are ways of carrying certain features of it to a com- 
pleted mental and emotional satisfaction. It was found that 
such interaction of the various matters studied and of the 
powers that were acquired by the children avoided waste and 
maintained unity of mental growth. The problem of correla- 


tion, therefore, often solved through devices of instruction em- 
ployed to tie together things in themselves disconnected, was 
not present in this school because of the community and con- 
tinuity of its subject-matter. 

In addition, the study of the often observed, well-known, 
everyday occupations of living satisfied two recognized de- 
mands and principles of primary education: (i) the need of 
the familiar, the already experienced, as a basis for moving 
upon the unknown and remote; (2) the important claim for 
the part which the child's imagination plays in the process. 
Each day the child had occasion and opportunity to get from 
and exchange with others his store of experience, his range of 
information. He needed continually to make new observations, 
correcting and extending them in order to keep his own images 
moving and find mental rest and satisfaction in definite and 
vivid realization of what is new and enriching. 


Children in Group III (age six) were beginning their third 
year of school. The first week was usually full of talk about the 
experiences of the past summer. These were related by skilful 
direction and suggestion to the work of the previous year and 
the attention gradually focused on the extension of these in- 
terests to their present and future activities. The group went 
outdoors every day and noted the changes taking place in the 
woods, fields, and parks. Insects were found going into winter 
quarters, and many kinds of seeds were collected. The question 
of seed distribution came up, and the children thought of va- 
rious agentsthe wind, people, and various sorts of animals. 
Talk and interest centered for some time on seeds, and excur- 
sions were taken to the park and the woods twenty blocks 
away, where several seeds that were good to eat were found. 
This suggested others also good for food, and finally, each 
child made a list of such seeds and with help, classified them as 
(i) those where the seed house was good to eat, (2) where the 
seed house was not good, (3) those fruits such as the tomato, 
the bean, and the cucumber where both the seed and seed 


house were good for food. The next point developed was that 
certain seeds are cultivated for their food value by people who 
are called farmers. This took the children's thoughts into the 
country and back to their previous year's experience and the 
various farms they had visited. Some one suggested, "let's make 
a farm," and they were then started on a project similar to that 
of the previous years. There are, however, several points of 
difference worthy of notice. Although the same use of materials 
continued with these children, more definite forms of control 
were established. Desirable means were considered with rela- 
tion to desired ends. This is well illustrated by the way in 
which the seeds that are good for food, the cereals, were studied 
in cooking. The preparation and cooking of the cereals brought 
out their constituents. This led to an additional classification 
of foods with relation to their source, whether the seeds, the 
stalks, or the roots of plants. 

The possibilities found in the gardening and indoor occu- 
pational work possible for this year increased so rapidly with 
the increased capacity of the child that the choice was almost 
unlimited. All the problems connected with plant growth recur 
in the care of plants and animals, but now definite experimen- 
tation, planned by the child, began. The storing up of food 
by the plants either in seeds, leaves, stems, or roots can be taken 
as a problem in itself and linked with the care of the school- 
room bulbs or garden seed. Another link made in the child's 
mind during this year was the dependence of animals (and 
human beings) upon plants and of plants upon the soil. 4 


The general method of the classroom, for the most part, 
followed a certain daily order. At the beginning of the period, 
the children were given time for the exchange of the amenities 
of the day usual to a group of persons meeting after an ab- 
sence. This general conversation was soon directed by the 

* While too much emphasis should not be placed upon the child's dawn- 
ing interest in discovering for himself appearing at this age, yet it can 
be utilized in finding new ways of getting old results. 


teacher to the business of the day. The results of previous work 
were reviewed in a group process, and plans for further devel- 
opment were discussed. Each child was encouraged to con- 
tribute, either out of his past experience or his imagination, 
ways and means of meeting the problem of needs that might 
arise under new circumstances. These suggestions were dis- 
cussed by the group, and with the aid of the teacher, the plans 
for the work of the day were decided upon and delegated. At 
the close of the period, there was again a group meeting when 
the results, if successful, were summarized, and new plans for 
further work at the next period suggested. 

The first project of the year started off with the building of 
a farm-house and barn out of large blocks varying in size up 
to six inches. In order to find the dimensions of their square 
houses, the children added the lengths of the blocks on one 
side and found the sum to be twelve inches or one foot. A plan 
for a chicken coop of manilla paper was then discussed and was 
finally marked off in two- and three-inch lengths, a rough ap- 
proximation to keep in scale with the house. In the meantime, 
attention was centered on the farm itself, and the decision was 
made to raise corn and wheat and to have sheep and a dairy. 
The land was divided into fields and pastures, which were then 
fenced. For this they gathered twigs (to take the place of logs 
in making a rail fence), cut them into six-inch lengths, and 
built the fence three rails high. Around their pastures, how- 
ever, they decided to have a stone fence, as they thought this 
was stronger. Work continued to some extent on the farm- 
house. Boards were cut to proper lengths, with spaces for the 
door and windows. A chicken coop was started. In planning 
the back part of this, when laying off spaces for the windows 
and doors, it suddenly struck the children that the door was 
wider than it was high. One of the children went to another 
table and measured the door already laid off for the front 
of the farm-house, and came back with the correct dimensions. 
This was an encouraging indication of a developing power of 
initiative and judgment. The square, the triangle, and the 
ruler were used freely. Although they had used the latter only 
a short time, they were very apt in its use. They knew the inch 


and half-inch, but hesitated on the quarter-inch. In general, 
it was found that they all took manual directions very well and 
showed great ability to plan and a high degree of independ- 
ence in the execution of their plans, doing all the measuring 
and sawing themselves. As the project developed they suggested 
many of the things necessary in the making of a suitable house. 
The interest was well-sustained. In the kindergarten these chil- 
dren had been accustomed to making things that could be 
finished in one day, but they worked on this for almost two 
weeks without any loss of interest. 

Early in the fall the group measured off and cleaned a space 
in the school yard five by ten feet for planting their winter 
wheat. A method of plowing was discussed and at one child's 
suggestion, a sharp stick was used and the field prepared in 
which the wheat was sown. In their sand-box farm their imag- 
inary crop had come to fruition and, like the sheaf brought 
in from the farm, was ready for threshing. The various parts 
of the whole plant and their uses were discussed with the con- 
clusion that the seed was of most value to people. A list was 
made of the wheat foods they had eaten breakfast foods of 
coarsely ground wheat, and bread and cake from the finely 
ground flour. They played that they were farmers and dis- 
cussed the best means of getting the seeds from the hulls, as 
they called the process of threshing. At first they picked it out 
by hand. This was too slow, so they suggested beating it with 
a stick and found that only the edge of the stick struck the 
ground. The problem was taken to the shop director, and with 
the help of some questioning, the children decided that if the 
farmer had two sticks joined together, more of the stick would 
hit the grain and thus the work would be done more quickly. 
The handle of the flail was made twice as long as the part that 
hits the grain. The next stop was to experiment with the 
wheat they had threshed and winnowed. Accordingly, it was 
pounded in a mortar and compared to some fine, white flour. 
They saw that the inside of the grain was soft and white like 
the fine flour, but that it was mixed with coarse, yellow par- 
ticles. A child suggested putting this meal through a sieve to 
separate the coarse from the fine. This was done, but although 


the meal was a good deal finer, some of the yellow particles 
still remained. They then wanted to put it through a still finer 
sieve, but as there was none convenient, the process of bolting 
was explained to them, and the flour was sifted through some 
cheese cloth. This took out all the yellow particles and left 
the flour fine and white. They had in the end about three 
tablespoonsful o it, which was used in making a cake. 

The experimental work with the food products of the farm 
and the effect of heat upon them as demonstrated in the cook- 
ing bulked large in the daily activities of these children. The 
interest in this phase of their occupational work was keen and 
assumed great importance in the development of the whole 
project and particularly in their use of numbers. When they 
talked about grains in the classroom, they cooked cereals in 
the kitchen. For this they needed to learn to measure, to know 
how many teaspoons equal one tablespoon, how many table- 
spoons equal one cup, and so on. They discovered that two 
halves make a cupful, just the same as three thirds, or four 
quarters, and they came to talk about %, %, or % of a cupful, 
with ease and certainty. It was easy for them to see that % of 
a cup of water is i and % of a cup. 

Much also of the number work was related to the construc- 
tion work done on their farm or in connection with it. When 
their sand-table farm had to be divided into several fields for 
wheat, corn, oats, and also for the house and the barn, the 
children used a one-foot ruler as a unit of measurement and 
came to understand what was meant by "fourths and halves" 
the divisions made, though not accurate, were near enough to 
allow them to mark off their farm. As they became more fa- 
miliar with the ruler and learned the half -foot, and the quarter- 
foot and inch, finer work was naturally expected of them and 
obtained. Their use of this tool made it easy to distinguish 
those children who had had a kindergarten education from 
those who had just entered the group. When building the 
farm-house, four posts were needed for the corners and six 
or seven slats, all of the same height. In measuring the latter, 
the children frequently forgot to keep the left-hand edge of the 
ruler on the left-hand side of the slat, so the measurements had 


to be repeated two or three times before they were correct. 
What they did to one side of the house, they also did to the 
other and naturally worked more rapidly and more accurately 
as the work was repeated. 

A new game of dominoes, invented by one of the teachers, 5 
did much to interest the children in the composition of num- 
bers. Each domino had lines in place of dots. These when 
joined make numbers. A child is asked to take eight blocks. 
At first, he takes one block at a time, eight times. He builds 
his eight and is asked what he sees in it. He may see four and 
four or five and three. When all the compositions of eight are 
exhausted, he is asked how he can take eight blocks more 
rapidly than just one at a time. He may say: "Take six in one 
hand and two in the other," or "four in one hand and four in 
the other," and then proceeds to demonstrate this, by building 
an eight with a six and two, a four and four, and so on. This 
was done with all numbers up to twenty. When they came to 
the number ten, a child was asked to count the fingers on both 
hands and when he answered ten, was told that he had counted 
"once around his fingers," and a symbol for that was "i (once) 
O round." The children agreed this might have been the 
development of our "10." Twenty was then twice (2) around 
and so on. In making eleven, twelve, and the "teens," they 
built their ten and began again to build another ten, but the 
blocks gave out (purposely). One of the blocks from each 
child's set was marked with a blue chalk line, and this marked 
block represented ten. So when they made eleven, twelve, etc., 
they made it with the ten block and one or two more. They 
were interested and understood quickly. The report com- 
ments "the children of these two groups seem to be mathema- 
tically inclined, and numbers are a pleasure to them." 

An interest in reading also developed during these weeks, 
starting in a game which necessitated it. All the things they 
had found in their outdoor excursions were placed on a table. 
Sentences were written on the board, such as: "Find a cocoon," 
and the child who could read it was allowed to run and get the 

s Clinton Osbora. 


cocoon. After playing this game a few times, the same sentences 
were shown printed in large type, so that they would get the 
printed form simultaneously with the script. They seemed very 
eagei to read and decided themselves to make a weekly record 
of their work. This record was printed from time to time in 
large type and was reread with undiminished interest. One 
of the children brought David Starr Jordan's The Story of 
Knight and Barbara to school. Knight and Barbara were chil- 
dren of three and six, who retold and illustrated the stories 
that had been told to them. The children were so pleased with 
the book that they thought they would like to make one like 
it and at once set to work on the fable of the Hare and the 
Tortoise as the first story for their book. The story was told 
to them and they retold about one half of it at one sitting. 
This took some time as considerable discussion was necessary 
to make their story logical and clear. The story was written on 
the board and, when completed, was printed in large type on 
the charts, and later in small type for their books. The group 
seems to have shown the same sustained interest in reading 
and in finishing these books that they did in the making of 
their farm and, in general, exhibited a rather remarkable abil- 
ity to concentrate on all phases of their work. 


Dramatic play frequently helped initiate a new phase of the 
activity and as frequently was the means of summarizing the 
result of a period's work. The distribution of the threshed or 
milled wheat started off with such a play. The setting for the 
play, the farm and the mill, was constructed of large blocks; 
some children played they were farmers; others were millers. 
The farmers carried wheat to the mill; the millers ground it. 
The farmer paid the miller by letting him keep some of the 
flour and carried home the rest for bread in sacks already pre- 
pared for this purpose by the children. Wagons were needed, 
and in a day or two these outnumbered their horses. Day by 
day the idea grew, helped on by timely hint or suggestion. 

It was explained that times had changed, that now there was 


no small near-by mill where a farmer could take his grain. It 
must be sent many miles away to a large mill, which ground 
the wheat of many farms, and when each farmer wanted flour, 
he bought it at a grocery store in the nearest town. It took 
some time for them to get a clear idea of the modern trans- 
portation of wheat from the farm to the big mill and the dis- 
tribution of the flour from the mill. Here again, their first 
ideas were worked out through dramatic play. Some of them 
were to be farmers, some trainmen, some mill hands, and some 
grocers in different towns. The farmers were to take the wheat 
to the nearest small town where it could be put on the train 
and sent to a large city mill many miles away. Here the millers 
would receive it and, after making it into flour, would put it 
on another train and send it to the grocers in the different 
towns where it would be sold to the farmers when they might 
want it. In order that the play should be a success, much prep- 
aration was required, and the little farmers were again busy 
in the shop, making miniature bushel, peck, and other neces- 
sary measures. These, through the careful planning of the 
teacher, were circular; all had bottoms of the same size and 
varied only in height. Incidentally, but logically, they then saw 
that to be good actors, they must learn how to use these tools 
in order to measure out their grain. 

It was necessary to help them in the logical arrangement of 
the rather complicated series of acts necessary in their play. 
Early in the process of making the plan, each child was given 
a large piece of paper and a pencil, and diagrams were made 
representing the ideas previously worked out. Circles were 
used to represent towns and cities, squares to represent farms, 
lines for railroads, and a pictorial representation of the events 
of the play was thus worked out. 

Other cereals such as corn and oats were studied in the same 
manner as wheat. The developing activities in each case fur- 
nished opportunities for close correlation between the shop, 
the sewing, and the textile and art studios. Needs were many in 
these miniature living projects. Groups of children or individ- 
uals frequented the shop for help in making wagons, fence 
pickets, house lumber, or furnishings. Others besieged the tex- 


tile studio for bags for their grain or to make rugs on their 
looms. Thence to the art studio for design ideas for either rugs 
or book covers or illustrations for their written records. There 
was much need to know what to use and how to use it in their 
never ending activity. It had the qualities and possibilities of 
real living; "it was genuine and linked to desired ends. It was 
not too easy nor yet too hard, but was of such a nature that the 
child was alternately satisfied with his accomplishment and 
lured on to greater undertaking. 

The study of the farmer's life now took up the animals on 
his farm. The cow and the dairy products seemed of first im- 
portance to the children. A list was made of all the foods given 
by the cow milk, cream, butter, cheese, the flesh which is 
used for food, and the skin for leather. 6 The group talked 
about the habits of the cow and watched those in the lot 
across the street. They concluded that most of a cow's time was 
spent in eating grass. It was explained to the children that grass 
contained very little nourishment, and the cows had to eat 
great quantities of it in order to get enough for their needs. 
It was noticed that when the cow was biting off the grass, she 
did not stop to chew it, but ate it very rapidly. The children 
then observed some of the cows lying in the shade, chewing. 
Again it was explained that long ago the flesh-eating animals 
preyed on those which lived on grass. The latter, always in dan- 
ger when they went out into the open grassy places had to eat 
quickly. Out of this grew the habit of rolling the cropped grass 
into balls and swallowing them into the first stomach, where 
they lay until these animals could return into the comparative 
safety of the woods. Here, while resting, the muscles of the 
throat brought these balls up into the mouth again, where 
they were thoroughly chewed and then swallowed into the 
second stomach. 

The winter quarter was begun with talk of the sheep-raising 
business on a farm. The kind of land was considered that a 

The work in cooking was in close correlation. In the science laboratory 
an attempt was made to tan leather. The various daily products were 
studied, and butter was made by each child in an improvised individual 


fanner would use for the pasture for sheep. After much dis- 
cussion supplemented at the right moment by bits of informa- 
tion and timely reference to maps on the part of the teacher, 
the group finally decided that a temperate climate would be 
the best. The cold winters would make the wool grow well, 
and the sheep would not miss their warm coats in the summer. 
On the globe, they found the principal sheep-raising districts, 
which were located midway between the equator and the poles. 
The raw wool was examined and its agency in seed distribution 
was noted. The natural oil in the wool of the sheep was dis- 
covered by dipping the wool into water and noticing how it 
shed the water. Wool was compared with duck feathers that 
also shed water; wool was burned to get the odor, which the 
children compared with burning fat and burning hair. They 
then tested different kinds of cloth to see if they could tell 
those made of wool, first by feeling of it, then by noticing its 
absorbent qualities, and then by burning. As a next step, the 
wool was pulled out and twisted to show how easily it could 
be made into thread. The manner of shearing, of washing, and 
of transporting the fleece to the factory was discussed. Through 
picture, song, and story this age-old occupation was surrounded 
by and linked to some of its many esthetic connotations. 


The children now seemed ready and interested to go farther 
afield and think about the farming crops of other climates 
than their own. Accordingly, a study was made of cotton. 
The plant was drawn and finally pulled to pieces to find how 
many seeds the ball contained. As these seemed more than 
were necessary for replanting, the question came up as to what 
could be done with the excess. As the children did not know 
and had no suggestions, it was necessary to tell them. They 
opened some of the seeds and saw that the inside is like a little 
nut, which they thought might be good to eat. They were 
told that, ground up, it made an excellent food for cattle and 
saw for themselves that the inside of the seed is very rich and 
oily. They then learned more of the characteristics and uses of 


cotton-seed oil. They wanted to plant some of the cotton seeds 
and raise cotton themselves. As it was too cold for this out-of- 
doors, some was put in flower-pots in the house, and at the 
same time corn and wheat were planted to see which would 
be the first to germinate. In this connection, the question of 
climate came up, and the children found the places on the 
globe where cotton could easily be raised. A cotton plantation 
was described to them, and they were told of the old-fashioned 
way of separating the seeds from the cotton. An ounce of the 
cotton was weighed, and ten children took ten minutes to re- 
move the seeds. They saw that this was a very slow and im- 
possible process by hand and suggested the use of machinery. 
When told of the invention of the cotton-gin, they readily 
understood that this would make the cotton much cheaper. 
They then spent some time in removing the seeds from a 
quarter-pound of cotton and making it into bales. A small 
quantity of picked cotton was then ginned and with much 
speculation and interest was again weighed, and found to have 
lost one half its weight. Their written conclusion was that the 
seeds made up half of the weight of the boll. In the process of 
weighing the children became familiar with the pound, half- 
pound, and other weights and grew able to tell how many 
ounce weights are equivalent to a pound, how many quarter- 
pound weights to the pound or to the half-pound, and how 
many ounces there are in each of these weights. They also spent 
a little time counting by two, three, four, and five. 

The ginned cotton was finally baled and prepared for ship- 
ment to the factory. For this they first cut four-inch squares of 
paper, working out the problem for themselves, which served 
as patterns for the cloth squares in which they sewed the 
cotton. This was then tied with string. Some was shipped to a 
cloth factory in the north and some went to be made into 
thread. To help them summarize the whole process, they were 
shown a case of samples of cotton in its various stages of manu- 
facture from the raw cotton to the finished product. After 
talking about it, the children were asked to describe the process 
without looking at the samples. As they could not do this the 
whole lesson was repeated until they were able to give a con- 


secutive description. They then commenced to make little 
combs for combing the cotton, as this is the first step after it 
reaches the mill. 

During this period at the close of each step of the process, a 
written record was made of the work. Often this was put in the 
form of a drama. Toward the close of the quarter, and after 
the carpenters of the group had finished the train of cars 
which was to transport their cotton crop from the factory to 
the wholesale stores, the complete dramatization was under- 
taken. Parts were assigned and the different steps in the process 
were clearly outlined so that each child would have a definite 
idea of the part he was to take. The children made a list of the 
places to be represented in the play, such as the plantation, the 
factory, the wholesale and retail stores, and so on. This was 
written on the board and opposite each place was written the 
names of the children who were to be in that particular part. 
Some hands on the plantation, some trainmen, some factory 
hands, and so on. It took quite a time to organize this play, 
and several rehearsals on different days were necessary be- 
fore things went smoothly. Each child soon realized the part 
he must play and was able to act out the steps of the different 
processes in their right order. The written story of their work 
was finished. It recorded the chief facts they knew about cotton 
and was read in an assembly of the whole school. 

The next development in the story grew out of the past ex- 
perience and led them on into a new experiment. When trying 
to locate the places on the globe where cotton might grow, they 
had noticed Egypt and the adjoining desert of Sahara and 
could not understand why cotton would not grow in the desert. 
The conditions there were explained, and they realized that 
cotton needs water as well as heat. One of the children im- 
mediately asked what farmers do when they cannot get water 
on their farms. On looking at the globe they saw the great 
stretch of country in the western part of this continent where 
there is never a sufficient water supply. 

In talking over the causes for this, they said right away that 
the water would have to come from the Pacific Ocean, which 
is the nearest large body of water. It was explained how the 


winds blowing across the lands would strike high mountains 
and would lose their moisture. Some of the children said that 
the wind could still get over the mountains, but that it would 
be a dry wind. Then, looking from the eastern side of this dry 
district, they saw that the east wind after traveling over the 
land such a great distance would also be dry. One of the chil- 
dren had been in Lower California and spoke of that as a dry 
country. Another child brought up the question of why it is 
a dry country when it is so near the sea shore where it can get 
such a supply of water. One boy suggested that the wind might 
blow from a different direction, but it was decided that the 
wind from any direction other than the west would be dry 
because of the mountains. In another period the same topic 
was discussed and the same conclusion reached. 

Again they studied the barren district in the western part of 
this country and again noted the mountains to the west with 
the understanding that the western sides of the mountains 
would be places of great rainfall. They suggested that if they 
could get the water from the mountains for these dry regions, 
it would be "all right." It might be carried by train in carts; 
but they soon saw this was impracticable, and the problem was 
left for solution until the next period when they launched into 
the methods of irrigation. This involved a good deal of ex- 
perimentation on the sand-table. After much questioning as 
to the best method of irrigation, they thought that the natural 
flow of water from a high place to a lower one could be uti- 
lized, and by means of ditches the water could be taken into 
the different parts of a farm. Their idea was that the supply of 
water from mountain streams would be small at certain seasons 
of the year, but could be stored in large tanks. They then went 
to the sand-box and built farms on this principle. They poured 
water into their lake in the hills, but some of them found that 
they did not get a supply of water on their farms because they 
had made their ditches without any regard to the natural 
slopes. A talk followed about the conditions under which water 
would flow from one place to another. A good many experi- 
ments were necessary, but finally, they decided that the supply 
tank must be on a hill and the ditches must extend down a 


slope, or the water would not run in them. They next decided 
to use pipes instead of ditches, as the ditches might get clogged 
up or the water might soak into the ground, and some men- 
tioned the loss from evaporation which would take place from 
ditches in a warm country. None of the children, however, 
realized that the water could go up the hill as high as the 
place it started from. A high tank was therefore arranged with 
an outlet of bent glass tubing, and the children found that the 
water in the tube rose as high as that in the tank. If they 
raised or lowered the tank, the water would also rise or sink, 
the water in the tube staying at the level of that in the tank. 
After this experimentation it was decided that the best system of 
irrigation would be to place the tank on the highest hill and 
put the pipes on the slopes. The next problem was raised by a 
child who asked how water could get to a second story that 
was higher than the level of the lake. A little city was built 
of blocks in the sand-box, and the problem was how to get 
water to a point higher than any of the houses. The children's 
solution was a water-tower. Water was pumped from the level 
of the lake to the level of the tower, and they proved to their 
own satisfaction that it would rise about as high in the pipes 
as its level in the tower. 

The next separate enterprise was the lumber camp. Out of 
their own experience and needs, the children realized that great 
quantities of wood are needed for houses, tables, and chairs, and 
their curiosity was aroused as to where the supply came from 
and how. Lack of space, however, renders it impossible to 
quote these records of the lumbering process, the development 
of the sawmill, and the transportation of the finished product 
to the retail dispensing houses; nor is it possible to include the 
succeeding project of coal and ore mining and its transporta- 

As previously indicated, each occupation was often initiated 
and usually concluded with a dramatic play. The children thus 
demonstrated to themselves their gain in power to image and 
to execute. Their first efforts to dramatize the play of "Miller" 
compared with the later detailed and complicated drama of 
"Cotton" showed a decided gain in power to plan, to carry out, 


and to consider the end in terms of the means available to 
reach the end. 

The written record of the work continued at regular inter- 
vals and was printed for the group from time to time on the 
school press and then read by them with great interest. Some 
work on phonetics was slipped in with the reading of the 
records, and the children learned easily the sounds of about 
eight consonants, were able to give the sound of the latter when 
they saw it written, and could write it when given the sound. 
As their ability to read increased, more time was given to 
collateral reading both to them and by them, until toward 
the end of the year a half-an-hour a day was devoted to read- 
ing and the writing of connected sentences. The reports com- 
ment that "they read with intelligence, have a good idea of 
phonics, and show great independence in forming new words." 


Thus in the first three years of his school life the child's play 
enlarged from the mimic games of his home people to those 
of the persons who contributed to the daily life of the home. 
His interests gradually extended to their activities and the 
things they did, made, or bought. Foods were traced to their 
sources, and finished products of wood or clothing to their raw 
materials. So far as he was able, he reproduced these activities 
and himself learned to shape materials and means to reach his 
ends or to fashion his ideas. In the shop he was shown from the 
first the right ways of handling the saw or the plane, as he 
made from the wood of this tree or that something to use in 
expressing his ideas. In the textile room he fingered the raw 
wool, the cotton, the flax, or the silk and compared it with the 
cloth of his coat or the shining luster of his mother's dress, and 
the old lure of "the how" and "the why" began to stir. In all 
the activities which filled his day, spinning, weaving, cooking, 
shop-work, modeling, dramatic plays, conversation, story- 
telling, or discussion, he was vitally interested and constantly 
absorbed knowledge of materials and processes. His activities 
were always fundamental and typical and, therefore, related 


and recapitulated his similar previous attempts, enriching and 
enlarging them into more definite purposes and plans. Thus, 
experience, was an onflowing stream continually enlarged from 
all sides by the pouring in of useful knowledge. 

As life flowed on, the child became conscious of his social 
relationships: that there were others in the group like him 
who had rights and privileges; that it was far more fun to play 
games with them even if he must renounce somewhat his own 
way and consider the way of others in relation to his own. It 
was more pleasant to work with them, even if he must think 
of the consequences of what he did in relation to others' plans, 
and he soon came to see that his consideration of and work 
with others was to the advantage of all, that by pooling his- 
effort with that of the group, larger and more interesting re- 
sults were obtained. There was a noticeable difference between 
those of the children who had been trained for three years in 
the discipline of the school's activities and those who had but 
recently entered. The former took hold of new situations much 
more competently than the new comers. 

All along the way the function of the teacher was to assist 
and further, by direction and anticipation, to remove the too- 
difficult elements of the situation such as search for material 
and too detailed preparation of material. At the same time 
she must see to it that the way was not made too plain, that 
there was enough hindrance to his plan to stimulate his fac- 
ulties of resourcefulness and judgment in directing the choice 
of ways or means so that the meaning of his plays, his games, 
his activities continually grew. New needs constantly arose in 
process, and new responsibilities were as constantly assumed 
by the child. The effect of discovering, of inventing, of using 
facts and processes to further his activity, enlarged his ideal of 
it, gave an increased confidence in his ability to handle ma- 
terials and a deeper appreciation of their worth. Most im- 
portant of all, there developed unconsciously a habit of acting 
that made him an essential human factor in his environment. 




vJFROUP IV averaged fourteen in number. The group was 
divided for its activities, which centered around the historical 
development of the fundamental occupations with special 
emphasis upon the progress made in methods due to inven- 
tion and discovery. The headquarters for this group was a 
northeast room which had a large eastern bay-window, fire- 
place, and closet and was also used as part of the chemical and 
physical laboratory. The room was large and was furnished 
sparsely with a sand-table, a smaller table, and the necessary 
chairs. The school session was from nine to twelve, and about 
one and a half hours of this time were spent with the group 
teacher. More time than with Group III, however, was given 
to conversation and the discussion necessary to the organiza- 
tion of the dramatic occupational work. The textile activities 
in this year overbalanced those of the shop and the kitchen. 
The time spent in the art studio was also increased, and the 
first steps in technique were undertaken in this year. 1 The 
group teacher in charge of the group was trained in science and 
was helped by the assistant who also worked with Group III. 2 
Two years of experimentation with subject-matter for chil- 
dren of seven and eight years had given indications that this 
is a transitional age. For three years the children had been in- 
terested in and busy with the occupations of the various 

1 There was a division of opinion as to whether the introduction of 
conscious technique thus early was advantageous. 

2 Katherine Camp, Wynne Lackersteen. 



persons through whom food or clothing came to the home and 
with the sources of the materials from which the home itself 
was built, was lighted, or kept warm. Each child had been 
helped to imagine, to express in some tangible form, or to 
dramatize his own ideas of these occupations. In the process 
he had stored away many useful facts, had learned some skills 
of hand and eye, and had become familiar with the folk lore 
and ways of his own people. As a result of what he had done 
and seen, he had come to know something of the value of his 
own impulses through seeing what they can effect. The emo- 
tional satisfaction such expression gave led him to think about 
and experiment with better ways to express and thus discover 
the use of the scientific method although at this age not yet 
formulated as such. He had also gained from experience an 
idea of the moving character of the present, in the life of which 
he was a factor. At this age a child's activities are still for the 
most part direct from idea to action by use of the physical 
environment, but he is willing to develop an idea to a certain 
extent before expressing it. He is not content, for example, 
with a one-act play of "Miller," for he sees that a real miller 
goes through a series of acts and dimly perceives that there is 
an end in view. The new realization of and interest in the ends 
and aims of action go hand in hand with an increasing will- 
ingness and ability for longer periods of mental concentration. 
His best loved materials for play are still sticks and stones, dirt 
and sand, fire and water. Social situations interest him, persons 
using and controlling their environment in getting food, cloth- 
ing, shelter, and gradually, comfort and satisfaction. Life is 
still a unity to him. Facts and skills are interesting and worth 
while only as they help in his activities. It makes no difference 
whether the occupations he is reliving are those of the present 
time in the forests of Michigan or those of primitive man or of 
Greek and Roman days. His interest is in carrying on his play. 


Less and less often is his question "What does he do?" 
Wonder has begun to stir his imaginings as to the whence and 




the where. The lure of the how and the why begins at this 
age to leaven the questing mind. The child is less and less con- 
tent with endless imitation and likes more and more to experi- 
ment and, after the fashion of his own thinking, to originate. 
The spirit of inquiry is opening the door to investigation, to 
discovery and invention. These and other signs along the 
way seem to show a changing, an enlarging, and increasing 

The aim of this year's study, therefore, was to make sure of 
these enlarging interests and awakening impulses to action 
and to carry the child, by means of them, into an ever enlarg- 
ing understanding of his moving stream of life whence and 
how it comes, whither and how it goes. The dawning psycho- 
logical consciousness of a relation between the means and the 
end suggests that the interests of the child of this age are ready 
to extend to persons in situations different from his own. In 
response to this awakening interest in other times and situa- 
tions, the work for this group became historical in character. 
It was still concerned with what men do, but the factors of 
men, their environment, and relationships were stretched out 
longitudinally, as it were, into the characters, environment, 
and social situations of primitive times. Continuity of sub- 
ject-matter, the fundamental activities of getting food, and 
providing shelter and clothing, was thus preserved and at the 
same time the physical and social settings of these activities were 
so simplified that they permitted and required the greater detail 
and definiteness of treatment that the child's present environ- 
ment denies. It was necessary for him to lift himself and his 
images out of the complexity of his present life and gradually 
people the situation and environment of an utterly different 
period of time. This required a certain power of abstraction. 
Farming, as studied the previous year, had shown what certain 
people do, what things they come in contact with, how they 
use them, and how the farmer serves other people. Agriculture 
taken in historic perspective, however, while reviewing much of 
this material, throws emphasis upon the peculiar needs in man's 
life which call forth this occupation, and the way in which it 
reacts upon the make-up of society. In one case, the matter is 


taken up as a situation to be realized; in the other as some- 
thing whose typical motives and effects are to be discovered 
and traced. Used in this way, the historic statement as Mr. 
Dewey suggests, "is a method of analysis of existing social life, 
not mere information about something past and gone." 

The historic approach also requires attention to the se- 
quence and order of progress in its larger and more obvious 
features. The child is led to consider imaginatively the needs 
of other times and places which call forth certain kinds of 
occupations and the devices and inventions that gradually take 
place in them. He sees the advance made in ways of living 
through control of tools, fire, and directed uses of wind and 
water. He understands the greater feeling of security that re- 
sults from a more constant source of food and from the com- 
bination and cooperation of individuals and families in a clan 
organization. He recognizes that the qualities of leadership 
demanded in war and hunting cannot take away the control 
of affairs from those of the clan who are wise in tradition, the 
old, both men and women, and thus comes naturally to a 
respect for age and experience. He learns that it is necessary 
to know both how to follow and how to lead and that there is 
adventure under as well as of leadership. This sort of dramatic 
play cannot fail to make clear the way invention reacts upon 
life and calls into play new powers of both individuals and 
groups, new ways of cooperation and association, and leads to 
the use of natural objects and the control of forces hitherto 
unmastered. "The orderly and cumulative narrative of history 
is logic in its concrete form, a form which appeals to the child 
mind of this age." 

This type of material uses the interest in the primitive and 
the savage so characteristic of children of this age. It could be 
said with truth that the fundamental interests of a child at this 
stage of growth and of a savage are the same, food, comfort, 
shelter, although with the child these interests are multiplied 
and refined. It could be said that the child is like the savage 
in ability but not in capability, for behind the former lies the 
great heritage of civilization. It follows that the activities of 
primitive peoples are in line with the child's interests and 


under wise direction this study can provide the avenues for his 
best effort. 

The dangers attendant upon an unwise use of the primitive 
life approach were fully recognized, but the advantages ap- 
parent in the results of repeated experiment with such a study 
seemed far to outweight its disadvantages. The dramatic use 
of its incidents utilized the interest of the child in the primitive 
way of living so as to minimize the sensational or merely 
picturesque features and bring out its defects. He came to 
realize the motives that otherwise lie hidden from the modern 
civilized child, and the hard conditions of primitive life that 
forced men to work their way to a better and better life of a 
kind that gave a sense of peace and security. When the child 
realizes the reality of primitive problems, he wants to redis- 
cover and reinvent for himself the better ways and means of 
living. He thus finds the secret of advance which has resulted 
for the race in an upward spiral of progressive action. 

Finally, and most important of all, it was hoped that if good 
practice proved the method true, there would crystallize in the 
child as a by-product of this directed activity, a similar habit of 
considered and considerate behavior which would carry over 
into his present situations. Certain rather sensational incidents 
proved there was basis for such a hope. A child of eight who 
had carried such a program was playing in the attic of his 
home with his sister of thirteen and his brother of four when 
he suddenly saw his brother's clothing in flames. The sister ran 
shrieking for adult help, while our boy wrapped a blanket 
about his brother, threw him to the floor, and smothered the 
flames so quickly that no serious injury resulted. When praised 
for his quick work and asked how he knew what to do, the boy, 
very simply and with no apparent feeling that he had done 
anything unusual, replied that his teacher the previous year 
had told them the different ways of putting out fire with earth, 
heavy cloths, water, and so on and had shown them just how 
to act in case clothing caught fire. In another group where the 
teacher had not sufficiently emphasized the right choice of a 
place to build a fire, a little child went home and started a 
fire on the wooden floor of a closet. 



The starting point of the study for this year was varied, de- 
pending upon the background and experience of both teacher 
and children. 3 Sometimes the journey back to the long ago was 
made by the old, old road of "Let's pretend," dropping along 
the way, one by one, all the comforts and conveniences of pres- 
ent foods, clothing, and shelter which the children thought 
they could do without. 4 By this process of eliminating the non- 
essentials they were reduced to water (always mentioned as the 
first essential), food, and the necessity of protection from the 
elements and wild animals. They found difficulty, some groups 
more than others, in imagining any life without fire and guns, 
while clothing was easily cast aside as immaterial to comfort. 
They told various stories of the possible ways in which fire was 
discovered, although the one which seems perhaps the most 
obvious, lightning, had to be suggested. They had heard of 
making fire with flint, by rubbing sticks together, and sug- 
gested that it might have been first taken from volcanic sources. 
The value of fire for protection from the dangers of primitive 
times necessitated some elaboration of the abundant animal 
life then existing. After much individual experimentation each 
child learned to make a fire and formulated the chief things 
requisite to the experiment: (i) a supply of air, (2) use of in- 
flammable material such as kindling, (3) proper arrangement in 
stacking sticks for the admission of air. They decided that as 
it was very hard to start a fire in those days, it would be well 
to find some way of keeping it from going out. They discovered 
that hard wood burns slowly and that by partial covering from 
air fire can be kept for a long time. 

3 The study of primitive life was always present in the curriculum at this 
stage of growth, but by reason of its imaginative nature it varied widely 
from year to year. Each year it was the outgrowth of a particular group of 
children and teacher by whom it was planned and enacted. Other material 
was also tried Indian, Eskimo, African savage tribes, but the course de- 
scribed seems to have been the most fruitful in its results. 

* The ability to reconstruct such scenes varied with the experience of 
both children and teacher. 


It was difficult 5 for one class to carry out dramatically even 
the simplest imagined scenes in the daily life they were discuss- 
ing or to construct adequate images of the physical surround- 
ings as the setting for a story. Neither could they suggest in- 
cidents which might fit this setting. Much time, therefore, was 
spent in experimental work with the materials which primitive 
peoples would use, and then the children could more easily 
originate and dramatize the story side of the study. In addition 
to their work with fire, they carried out in detail (as far as 
their physical limitations would allow) such things as the 
selection of stones for making weapons, cooking by roasting 
and by boiling with the aid of heated stones. They talked about 
the sort of place early man used for shelter, trees and caves 
and their comparative merits, and how the discovery of fire 
had made the cave a more comfortable and safe place to live. 
The questions of where caves would be found and how they 
were formed were considered very slightly. The kinds of rock 
in which some of the children had seen caves, limestone and 
granite, were compared with a view to the probable shape 
and size of the caves in each. The various foods that could be 
found by men of this period were thought of and grouped by 
the children under four main heads: berries, fruits, roots, and 
animal food. The sort of weapons used and the ways of getting 
animal food were talked over. One child said that if they once 
found nuts, they could make a trap baited with nuts for squir- 
rels, and when they had a squirrel, they could bait a larger 
trap for bear. The first inventions suggested were improve- 
ments in weapons. Shape was suited to purpose. The club with 
its inserted stones developed into the spear and axe with a 
sharpened stone at the end of a handle. A question as to the 
kind of stone suitable for weapons brought out the idea that 
it must be such as would break in sharp edges, and that these 
edges must not crumble or flake off easily. Various stones, such 
as limestone, granite, slate, soapstone, and flint, were examined 
for cleavage and friability and were tested by the children to 

The failure of the story and dramatic approach caused the substitution 
of experiments with primitive materials. 


find out which possessed these characteristics. They were, one 
by one, rejected with the exception of granite, flint, and the 
harder limestone. When making their clubs and spears the 
children were told that guitar and violin strings had the same 
characteristics as the sinews and skins, and these were used for 
binding arrow-heads onto sticks. After soaking and drying, 
the sinews would readily split and, when soaked again and 
wound closely around the arrow-head, would shrink in dry- 
ing and hold the arrow-head tightly in place. The invention of 
the bow and arrow was described, and its advantages for the 
tribe which possessed it were brought out by showing that men 
now had a weapon which could be used from a distance, thus 
lessening the risk to the user and increasing his chances of 
success in hunting or defense. 

Cave life as a whole, with its weapons, utensils, and clothing, 
was worked out in tangible form by the children. Much other, 
detailed preliminary work gave background and a setting in 
which the children, in fancy, could become a tribe of primi- 
tive people. Caves were constructed of various shapes and sizes 
on the sand-table. Into them were put the necessary utensils 
and weapons. When this was done, the class discussed the 
merits of each cave, each child selecting the one he would pre- 
fer. Their talk brought out various improvements, such as 
blocking up the doorway and the proper placing of the fire 
beneath the smoke hole. Each cave, when finished, contained 
a rude spit for roasting, a stone pot for boiling, chipped out of 
rock, weapons, huge stone axes and spears, a bed, and skins 
of beasts that had been slain for use as clothing. In discussion 
they came to see the use of the stone pot for cooking meat and 
nuts in water heated to boiling by hot stones. They then heated 
different kinds of stone, limestone, sandstone, slate, and granite 
over bunsen burners and threw them into water to see how 
this was done. 

It was only after this preliminary work that one group could 
appreciate Stanley Waterloo's Story of Ab enough to act out 
dramatically such incidents as the meeting of the two boys 
and their plans for the capture of some grazing animal by the 


construction of a pitfall in the plains below their homes, 6 could 
imagine and carry out more easily the autobiographical ac- 
count of their own tribe, could state their problems and discuss 
intelligently ways and means of solving them, and thus develop 
an attitude of mind that was alert to discovery and invention. 

In these various ways the children passed imaginatively 
through different stages of living. Their tribe, more independ- 
ent through the invention of the bow and arrow, migrated to 
homes nearer the open plains in the lower part of the river 
valley, where the grazing animals, which were now their special 
dependence for food, were most abundant. The necessity of 
hunting the mastodon was suggested by the children as the 
reason for a combination with a tribe near-by. Such a hunt re- 
quired many people, and its success depended upon some de- 
gree of coordination under a leader, whose position had been 
gained by acknowledged ability and whose commands, for the 
time being, all must obey. Another possible reason for a com- 
bination defense might be an appeal for help from the raids of 
a cave tiger upon an isolated community. Skilful direction by 
leaders was recognized as essential to success where large num- 
bers were concerned. 

The temporary combination for a specific aim brought the 
children logically to the consideration of how a permanent 
combination might develop out of the need of a change of 
residence, necessitated by the migration of the animals, their 
chief source of food. The children were helped to develop the 
situation and physical setting out of which the need for such 
a migration would probably arise. They gathered together all 
the physical characteristics of their present home, the high 
bank and river valley. They were told it was the time of year 
when the days would begin to shorten, and the birds and 
animals move southward. The experience of a bad winter the 
previous year was given as a reason for moving southward with 
the animals. They discussed the plan of going and, with a good 
deal of help, decided that the river was the easiest route to the 

Some classes preferred the Story of Ab as told by the teacher; others de- 
manded the book to be read in serial fashion week after week. 


south. They quickly suggested a raft as the easiest plan for 
transportation. They then organized a party, naming the 
things they would take with them and the way each thing 
would have to be carried. 

They agreed that their leader would have to be one who had 
at some previous time followed the river and found the animals 
on the plains near its mouth, and they discussed the qualities 
that would make a man a leader. They said he would have to 
be brave and willing to meet danger, and that he must know 
a great deal and own a great many arrows. They then elected 
as leader one from their number. One of the children said, 
"Just like voting for President." The question was asked what 
name the chosen leader would have, and how people would be 
named in those days. As they had no suggestions ready, they 
were told the story of how each young Indian earned his name 
by what he had done. Instead of suggesting a name for their 
leader from the exploits of one of their own tribe, they 
promptly transferred the name of a young Indian to their 

The children had several times proposed finding and using 
clay, but were not able to suggest how or where it could be 
found. Upon starting down the river in their migration to the 
plains, one child suddenly recalled the fact that he himself 
had found clay in the banks overhanging a small river and 
proposed that the party should have that experience on their 
way down the river on rafts. In order to find out in what sort 
of a place, plain or hill, high bank or low level, the clay would 
be found, they experimented with clay and sand on the sand- 
table and found how both would settle when the water became 
still. Their surprise in finding the water perfectly clear above 
the clay was very pronounced. They decided that as the clay 
settled only in the glass that was kept still, the clay would be 
"dropped," as they called it, in quiet waters, or "ponds." They 
proposed that their party camp out on flat lands near the 
river, where the clay bottom of such a pond was drying in the 
sun. They made a map of this part of the river valley and a 
lake in the flat plain. They put water (into which they had 
stirred clay) in the hilly part of the sand-table map, so that it 


flowed down into the lake below, settled, and formed a clay 

The making of clay vessels has been so often and so success- 
fully worked out that for brevity's sake it seems best merely to 
list the outstanding things gained by the children in the rather 
long series of experimental activities incident to this phase of 
the study. They worked out: 

(1) The principle that the shape of a vessel should be controlled 
by its use 

(2) The length of time necessary for drying before firing 

(3) The change of the color of ochre to red after firing 

(4) The source of the black used by the Navajo Indians, soot 

(5) The type of the first form of potter's wheel, a flat disk of wood 
or stone turning on a smooth surface. (They made one. This 
was used by some of the children in making their vessels.) 

These results suggest the way in which ample time was 
given the children to play and experiment with the various 
raw materials used in their activities. The simplicity of the 
things they played with was enriched by frequent visits to the 
museum to see the results of the perfected technique of primi- 
tive peoples. Their own lack of it never seemed to bother them. 
Although all this experimental work took some time, the chil- 
dren did not lose their sense of identification with the tribe. 
They frequently discussed the individuals they were imperson- 
ating, some choosing names for themselves. One called himself 

About this time also the children began to show a more 
alert interest in the tribe's doings and were able to realize and 
picture the physical features of its setting much more intelli- 
gently than before. 

They went over the uses to which they could put the different 
parts of the animals the clan would kill, the flesh and marrow 
of the bones for food, the bones and horns for weapons. Wool 
was studied to see the use to which the hair of an animal could 
be put; the inside fibres of the bark of the basswood were torn 
out and woven into mats; and the children tried dyeing the 
fibres with dogwood and berries gathered in the lot. Their plan 
in doing this was to select the number of basswood fibres 


needed to make the mat and then dye half this number for 
making a design in weaving. They experimented with border 
designs on paper and first drew these with curved lines. When 
they tried to weave the design into the mat, however, they 
found that they had to remake their pattern in straight lines to 
accommodate it to the stiff material. 

While these developments in making utensils of pottery and 
other material were taking place, there was talk of how certain 
animals might have become domesticated. Their own idea was 
that people would bring home wounded animals for their 
children to play with. It was suggested that young animals 
would be even nicer, for they would grow up with the children 
and gradually become tame. The fact was brought out that in 
a herd of animals one of the pack often signals to the others 
when an enemy is near. This suggested to the children that the 
dogs might signal to men in the same way and so be good 
watchers. Dogs might also be of use in aiding the hunt. Talk 
then continued of the flocks people would accumulate after 
they once began to domesticate animals. This led to conjec- 
ture as to the difference this might make in the home of the 
tribe, as grass would be necessary for the flocks. In addition, 
they thought the sheep would need a great deal of light and 
air, and that water would be required. They accordingly de- 
cided to migrate. 7 

Arrived at the grassy plain, they decided to be a small tribe 
of about twelve people with thirty sheep. They thought it not 
unlikely that another tribe would come to the same place, 
since the plain would feed more than thirty sheep. When this 
happened, the two tribes consolidated and arranged to unite 
their forces, since less men would be needed to watch the sheep 
and it was desirable to have some of them at home for other 
work. In first planning the consolidation the children thought 
it would be very bad, because it would be the surest way to 
bring about a fight. They said that if the two tribes ever wanted 

* For their migration they needed tents and began the construction of 
one large enough to hold the "tribe." This was made of unbleached muslin 
and, when finished, was taken to the field and set up where they encamped 
for the morning. 


to separate they could not tell which sheep belonged to each 

In one year the experience of Abraham and Lot was one of 
the stories told them to illustrate the character of shepherd 
life and the conditions and situations likely to cause difficulty. 
These stories, rewritten by the group either working together 
or as individuals, were often printed by the older children in 
large size type on the school press and became the basis of their 
study of language, while they also served to vivify the story 
they were dramatizing. 



The roving shepherd tribe now settled down for a space and 
after its consolidation and subsequent readjustments chose for 
the site of its permanent village an island in a river, a situation 
thought advantageous because of the protection afforded by 
the river. The children thought that the animals they were 
hunting, cattle, horses, small deer, would not frequent a settled 
place. As this village was on an island, the habits of the animals 
feeding on the adjoining plains would not be much disturbed 
because of the broad expanse of running water between the 
village and the plains. On one side of the river island the land 


was low and the children called it "Riverland." The fact was 
brought out that the island was formed where the river depos- 
ited the fine soil that it carried during flood times. Here wild 
wheat was growing, which the women of the village gathered 
and threshed and ground for food. The method of grinding was 
left as a problem to be worked out after they had done more 
work with various cereals in the kitchen, so that there would 
be a present reason for its solution. 

The earliest differentiation of labor was brought out in the 
occupations in the new homes. The old hunters confined their 
energies to bringing in small game from near their homes. The 
young hunters were the main dependence of the tribe, and the 
women and children gathered moss for beds, nuts and fruits 
for food, made the fireplaces, and kept the home fires burning. 

The children asked who would be the most powerful people 
in a settled agricultural tribe and considered the question im- 
portant. In the hunting tribes the old men had given place to 
the younger men when they were no longer able to take the 
lead in a hunt; but now it was concluded that the old men 
would have the most influence, as they would have the largest 
experience and could best direct the younger people. 

In order to enable the children to comprehend to some de- 
gree the length of time which elapsed between even slight 
improvements in the ways of living of primitive peoples whose 
lives they were relating, they were told something of the 
changes of climate during the glacier period and of the migra- 
tions of the animals. The length of time was made clear by 
referring it to the successive generations of the Ab family, for 
the children were so much attached to the name that it was 
continued from age to age. The increase in the number of the 
tribe during the successive generations was calculated, adding 
by threes, fives, and tens. The children added up to one hun- 
dred and twenty by tens and were then shown another way of 
saying it, i.e., twelve tens equal one hundred and twenty. 
Most of them knew this, but it was a starting point for further 
number work, and they then added together numbers of 
flocks of sheep, or tribes of people. 

The next advance toward civilization was the making of 


cloth from wool, a step beyond the clothes of skin or feathers 
with which, until now, the tribe had been clothed. Raw wool 
was given to the children to examine and decide how the fibres 
could be made into yarn. When they had pointed out the 
crinkles which would hold the fibres together, they spun wool 
with their fingers and wound it on a stone. The weighted 
thread twisted round their fingers, and this, coupled with what 
they had observed about spinning, led one or two of them to 
suggest something that would spin like a top. They then were 
shown pictures of a spindle, a spindle whorl, and so on. Thus 
the primitive way of spinning and its gradual development 
became clear to them as they reconstructed and gradually im- 
proved the primitive tools. Information about a process be- 
came knowledge of a process because it was the result of experi- 
ence. The primitive method of weaving was also taken up. The 
way of carrying on this experimentation varied with teacher 
and year. Where there was keen interest and an inventive spirit, 
the children were given the raw wool, and the beginning stages 
of carding and spinning were carried through in the classroom. 
Otherwise, the spinning and the weaving were left for the 
period in the textile room. This flexible and helpful coopera- 
tion between specialist and group teacher made quick adjust- 
ments easy. It was possible to "strike while the iron was hot" 
or to leave an idea such as the spinning or weaving to be 
worked out more slowly and in detail in the textile studio. 

The children now pictured freely other tribes than their 
own, living near and far, and dramatized meeting with them 
and the first exchange of goods such as wheat for baskets or 
wool, etc. In this exchange which the children were told was 
called "bartering," the articles made by them were used. 

In the on-going story different groups worked out the dis- 
covery of metals, in various ways. One year there was a dis- 
cussion of all the metals known to the children, together with 
their uses. Iron, lead, tin, copper, and zinc were compared as 
to their hardness, weight, and the amount of heat required to 
bring them to the melting point. Tin, zinc, and lead were 
melted over a bunsen burner and poured into water to cool. 
Since all the children had handled shot, they were interested 


in the spherical form assumed in cooling when the metal was 
poured from a height. In heating the metals they noted the 
time necessary to melt lead and tin and learned that copper 
and iron wire did not melt, but became red hot and could be 
flattened easily by hammering. They were shown metals in the 
natural state and given the word ore as a general term. They 
discussed how metals were probably discovered. It was sug- 
gested that people may have found melted copper in the char- 
coal on the hearth, and they were given the various stories 
about the discovery of iron. 

The next step was the construction of a smelting place of 
clay or stones. The chief problems for the children to solve in 
this undertaking were the position of the chimney and the ar- 
rangement for proper draught. They found by experience the 
advantage of a steady draught, how to protect the fire from 
sudden changes of wind, and that hard wood makes a hotter 
fire than soft. Further experimentation was necessary before 
they could understand the principle of draught. With the help 
of a taper, they investigated the currents of air in the room and 
found the current of cold air from the windows sinking to the 
floor and a current of warm air leaving the room at the top 
of the door. They then appreciated that the hot air in their 
furnace would rise and understood the necessity of a chimney 
for an intake of a continuous supply of cold air. Tin and zinc 
were melted successfully in a few of the best constructed smelt- 
ers, and the group, now quite intelligent as to the principle, 
pooled their experience and labor to construct a larger one in 
which ore was to be melted for the tribe's arrow-heads. Discus- 
sion of their plan for this made it clear that in order to form 
the melted ore, it was necessary to have molds. More discus- 
sion followed as to the material from which these would be 
made, resulting in the making of molds of clay and sand into 
which the molten lead was poured. 8 

So much of the work assumed the form of play that the chil- 
dren were not conscious of the knowledge they were gaining. 
They handled several kinds of metals, both in the ore and in 

* Copper was melted for them from the ore by means of a blow pipe so 
they would understand how it could be done. 


the pure state, and gained a knowledge of the processes by 
which apparent "heavy stones," as they first thought them, be- 
came changed into articles of great utility. Incidentally, they 
learned how the metals unite as in the making of bronze. 
They heated copper in the furnace and then, in order to make 
it plastic, submerged it in water and learned that copper unites 
with the air in the process of heating and forms a black scale 
which comes off in water. 

While working with metals, many stories were told illus- 
trating the advantages of metals and the value that would be 
attached to a knowledge of them by a tribe ignorant of how 
to work them. In order to demonstrate this, the class was 
divided into tribes, each tribe selecting what seemed to be a 
desirable location for a special occupation. One tribe, in- 
terested chiefly in raising wheat, selected a fertile plain near a 
range of hills where they could get some ore when necessary. 
This tribe naturally became interested in the way in which 
various foods, such as the wild cereals found, were "domes- 
ticated" (the word cultivated was given them) and the relation 
of climate and natural environment to the raising of these 
foods. The resulting effects upon the living habits of the people 
were brought out. These occupations were naturally closely 
related to the preparation and cooking of food and the changes 
that developed. 

Another tribe, interested in sheep raising, chose a valley with 
grazing plains and made a study of textiles and the sources of 
clothing. The metal workers picked out a site in the mountains 
near a river, and a fourth group selected the seacoast for its 
abundance of fish, shells, and pearls. Each tribe, after imagin- 
ing themselves settled in their new homes, began to perfect the 
one line of labor chosen and to decide how they could obtain 
other necessities of life. The tribe along the seashore needed 
boats and endeavored to think out some method of making 
them. The tribe raising wheat used first a bent twig dragged 
over the ground as a means of loosening the soil, then thought 
of taming oxen and training them to drag an improved plow; 
they also worked out a flail for threshing grain. The shepherds 
decided on the shelter for themselves and their flocks and dis- 


cussed the raising of sheep. Each tribe decided the number of 
families they would have and the number of persons in a fam- 
ily. Most of the class objected to having any children in the 
family, only one announcing his intention to have a "nice com- 
fortable family of five." 

The various tribes next sought some method of trading, or 
bartering, in order to secure the products of others. They at- 
tempted to find some standard of value, but found it difficult 
not to rate highest some rare shells which the people from the 
seashore brought to trade for wheat or sheep. A few children 
showed some skill in driving a bargain. 

Intercourse between tribes for the sake of barter involved the 
subject of transportation. Most of the children had so little 
idea of distance that it was necessary to build up something of 
a background of experience. They were asked how long it 
would require to walk the longest distance they knew definitely 
from the school, downtown. After much discussion of their 
own and their friends' experience, they finally arrived at the 
distance that could be walked in an hour and calculated the 
distance that might be covered in a day or in a week. With 
this idea of average distance reckoned in time, the children 
returned to their tribe and its situation. After more thinking 
they found that, with burdens to carry and a way that led not 
over smooth roads, but over mountains and plains covered with 
vegetation, a new estimate of how far the tribe could carry their 
produce for exchange would be necessary. Of course, the idea 
of animals as beasts of burden occurred to all the children, and 
they spent some time investigating the different types of ani- 
mals that could be so used. The typical burden-bearing animals 
were cut from paper, and a study made of their habits. As a 
result, they concluded that all burden-bearing animals are 
"grass-eating ruminants." 

A dramatic summing up in story form of the social organi- 
zation of the Bronze Age completed this year's work. It may 
not be necessary to remind the reader that at the same time 
that this dramatic study of primitive life and experimentation 
in its ways of living were going on, the same materials and 
similar though modern tools and ideas were being used in the 



shop, kitchen, studio, music room, and garden. Here also, em- 
phasis was laid on the relation of materials to their uses, the 
value of the inventive attitude, of designs and plans, and the 
r61es of the different forms of communication in all their ac- 
tivities. Museums and books were constantly used as sources 
so that the children in no way felt out-of-joint with their pres- 
ent. Instead, they gained a new point of view as to how the 
present had come to be. The relation of the sort of place they 
lived in to the type of thing they did grew clear and definite in 
their minds as they pictured the physical setting needed for rais- 
ing sheep and cattle, or as a source for their clay or coveted 
metals. As each phase of industry developed, attention concen- 
trated upon its natural habitat, and as one occupation suc- 
ceeded another, the children traveled in imagination till they 
found the locality especially suitable. Meantime in their sand 
and clay maps each new environment was added to those pre- 
viously brought up, until all the main features of physiographic 
structure were both introduced and placed in their relation- 
ships to one another. The child thus had a picture of a typical 
section of the earth's surface, of the way in which its various 
featuresmountains, uplands, river valleys, and seas connect 
with one another and with the activities of human life. The 
large amount of imaginative abstraction and arrangement of 
the natural features of their self-constructed sand maps, so that 
they were suitable for the changing sequence of their activities, 
proved an intellectual exercise of great importance. 


This natural setting of man and his occupations, the basis 
of their future, was clothed with human significance to these 
little actors of primitive life as they imaginatively wandered 
in the sand-box hills and valleys of their tribal habitation. In 
the process, many scientific facts of geology, of chemistry, of 
physics, or of biology, found their way into the sinews of their 
intellectual wings. 

In addition to such a view of geography in a human setting 
gained through constant dramatization of imagined situations 


and behavior, these children had an early glimpse into the be- 
ginnings of the social organizations of tribal life, in its various 
stages of development. Certain definite associations were built 
up between people, their social life, and the land they occu- 
pied. Ideas were gained as to a gradual progress in man's way 
of living his forms of shelter, his clothing, and kinds of food 
as well as of the part that invention and discovery had played 
in this development. 

As the year drew to its close the children summarized in writ- 
ten records and dramatic plays what the experience had made 
real to them. Facts about the gradual development of better 
ways of getting food, finding shelter, and the making of cloth- 
ing, of tools, of the means of defense, and the attendant dis- 
coveries and inventions were thus brought out. The records 
specified many of the different materials found on the earth 
which could be used in their natural state, also those which 
must be made over or refined. The general conclusion was that, 
man's necessity was the cause for change, and "using your 
head" was the means of invention. 

The long stretch of time between the imagined scene of the 
study and the actual present seemed to cause no difficulty. It 
was not difficult for these children to doff their roles as mem- 
bers of a primitive tribe and don their parts as children of a 
Chicago school in 1900. The needs and therefore the interests 
and the duties of the wood-gatherer, the fire-tender, the shelter 
or clothing-maker, or the cook remain the same from one age 
to another. It is the art of living that changes and progresses. 
This the children seemed to recognize in all phases of their 
work and play, whether constructive or experimental. Their 
activities were real and continuing, because they answered the 
genuine, ever present needs of life. 

The beginnings of many kinds of activity challenged each 
child to experiment along lines of his own interests and choos- 
ing, to make, to decorate, to contrive, and to invent. There 
were rafts and dugouts to be made for the migrating tribe; bows 
and arrows or other weapons must be strung and fashioned 
or traps made for the sabre-toothed tiger or other dangerous 
animals. A way must be found to harvest the good wild wheat 


of the river land and then to grind it. A use had been found 
for the newly discovered clay, and ideas were many for making 
bowls and utensils of all kinds. The potter's wheel was redis- 
covered. The cooperative effort of the shop director and the 
young inventors produced a rude, first potter's wheel. New dis- 
coveries led to new needs and these to new inventions, and 
made increasing demand for skill skill in the arts of construc- 
tion and communication. What each one did was never fully 
appreciated until it was passed on to others, and what one 
received from others frequently had to be tested to be ap- 
proved. Language was useful. One must write as well as speak, 
must read as well as listen in order to share more widely and 
in turn profit by such sharing. It was necessary to know how 
to count and measure and use the necessary tools in order to 
put ideas into concrete forms that were satisfactory and beau- 

All this was true of the fine as well as of the useful arts; the 
beginnings of the former naturally grew out of a finer and 
deeper appreciation of the latter, and a basic and fundamental 
relationship between the two was established. In their creative 
work in music, as in art, the influence of this imaginative life 
of primitive times was most marked and was used as far as 
possible. The function of time in producing melody grew plain 
to the children as they listened to the rhythmic beat of the tom- 
tom and caught the meaning of a metrical succession of notes 
all on one pitch. 

This imagined and dramatized story of man's long climb 
to better ways of living brought the children, at the end of 
the year, close to the period when authentic history begins. 
Through being actors in their own retelling of the probable 
story of civilization they had gained a background of experi- 
ence for the next year's continued study of the actual records 
of specific peoples. 9 

There is now perhaps too great emphasis in many schools 
on the "Here and Now" principle in selecting the constructive 

Much of the material In this chapter is taken from John Dewey, "His- 
torical Developments of Invention and Occupation, Central Principles," 
Elementary School Record, 1900. 


work of small children from the confused and complicated 
modern environment. Unreflective selection in reproductive 
play may include modern sky-scrapers, ocean liners, part of a 
National Exposition, or the ferry-boats of New York harbor. 
This chapter points out in detail that a skilled adult mind 
must operate in such selection. It also presents an approach 
which will leave the child in full possession of his inventive 
ability to be used in developing the simple activities and under- 
takings which he sees have been and are essential in social re- 
lations and organizations. 




JLHE homeroom for Group V, medium in size with southern 
exposure, was equipped with a geographic sand tray, black- 
board space, table, and closet. Because of the constant stream 
of visitors each room was supplied with extra chairs, and the 
mental picture of every classroom should include a number of 
adults looking on. 1 The group was under the direction of one 
of the instructors in science, with a teacher in history cooper- 
ating. 2 The occupational work centered around the trading 
and maritime activities of the Phoenicians, their exploration 
of the Mediterranean basin, and commerce with its various 
outstanding settlements, and then moved, on to the larger 
topic of world exploration and discovery. It must be remem- 
bered that as each group passed from home room to shop, to 
laboratory, to studio, to music room, the things they did or 
expressed, related to or illustrated as far as possible the activi- 
ties that went on in the historical study they were dramatizing. 
In previous years these children had gained a working knowl- 
edge of some of the occupations and social relationships of 
present life and an idea of how the present had come to 
be, through their study of primitive life. They had seen 
that any change of the physical situation of a tribal group 
necessitated and conditioned a revision of its social program 
and a redistribution of individual duties. Further, it was only 
through the invention of devices which made for better living 
conditions, more efficient weapons for defense and the getting 

1 As a rule the children were astonishingly unconscious of being observed, 

2 Mary Hill; Laura Runyon. 



of food, that man had come to a more settled and secure way 
of living. 

The choice of subject-matter for this year had been, as for 
all years, the result of much experimentation in order to find 
the type of civilization which possesses a progressive quality, 
an on-going, out-flowing, and developing way of living which 
gave a "go" to the story, linked it with the previous study, 
carried it on to the next step, and at the same time satisfied the 
spirit of romance and adventure which is rife at this age. In 
one year a detailed study of the American Indians, their in- 
ventions and customs, was followed by a study of the discovery 
of the Indians by the white men. Then came some of the ex- 
plorations which made known the form of the earth and its 
larger geographical features and forces. While satisfactory in 
some respects, the Indian civilization is so highly static in its 
type that an advance into the next era of culture was not easily 


The Phoenicians were finally chosen for the study of this 
year because the fixed habitat of this people was similar to the 
imaginary location of the tribe of metal workers of the previ- 
ous year, and yet presented conditions that were different from 
and unfavorable to the earlier life experience of the tribe, up 
to this time a nomadic pastoral people living on a plain be- 
yond the mountains. New problems would have to be met and 
solved in this unfamiliar environment. In this year, also, when 
the children began a serious use of the symbols of reading, writ- 
ing, and numbers, a study of the Phoenician civilization that 
had spread these conveniences through the then known world 
(the Mediterranean basin), seemed particularly appropriate. 
It also furnished the link between the life of primitive man, 
as developed in the previous year and the following age of 
discovery in the world's history, when knowledge of the earth's 
form and some conception of its physical forces were gained. 

Laura Louise Runyan, The Teaching of Elementary History in the 
Dewey School, University of Chicago, June, 1906. This account is indebted 
to Miss Runyan for extracts. 


For a tribe of people like die Phoenicians, with the sea in 
front and mountains behind, agriculture and flocks and herds 
were impossible as a means of support. The conditions had to 
yield a means of subsistence, however, if this tribe were to 
continue. How this could be done was the first problem given 
the children. Out of their past experience with ancient peoples, 
they themselves suggested that the sea might furnish fish and 
the mountains, metals and timber, and that these, if means of 
conveyance were found, might be exchanged with other tribes 
for wheat or wool. After much further discussion the group 
wrote out a description of their physical situation and plans 
for the future. This took the form of a recital by various mem- 
bers of the group, telling how they had come in their flight 
from some unfavorable situation to a physical situation similar 
to that of the Phoenician coast. 

The children, in their role of Phoenician traders, met the 
problems and inconveniences similar to those found in the 
earliest form of trade by barter. As indicated in the children's 
own records, a need arose for persons able to make usable ar- 
ticles from raw materials and for those who exchange these 
articles for others needed but which cannot be produced. In 
such relationships the child sees the need of the middleman. 
A dramatic picture of these early bartering relationships and 
of their development into trade was imagined by the children. 
They imagined themselves Phoenician sailors landing at some 
barbaric settlement of the African coast, and they saw the prob- 
able events which took place. The sailors, laying down their 
goods, would retire to their vessels. The barbarians would 
creep out of the bushes, inspect, and then place on the sand 
their produce, shells, ivory, or whatnot, and in turn, withdraw. 
Then came the inspection by the sailors of the offers made and 
acceptance or refusal of part or all of the exchange and, in case 
of refusal, the second chance given the natives to increase their 

Such a scene carries with it a spirit of adventure, a tang of 
excitement; it can illustrate how cupidity or generosity would 
develop, how gradually the confidence necessary for a perma- 
nent trading relationship can be established. These transac- 


tions also little by little establish the reputation for probity 
of the sailors at home with the merchants who had entrusted 
them with goods for sale. 


To carry on their work successfully the first merchant and 
trader would need to invent, adopt, or adapt a system of meas- 
urements and weights. He would need a numerical system and 
a system of records; he must plan how to utilize the labor of 
others, how to combine with others, and how to exclude others 
from his field of labor. Through enacting their roles these chil- 
dren came to appreciate the tasks of these first carriers of the 
world's commerce, and how a system probably evolved by which 
the products of a people could be measured and valued, and 
the records of such transactions kept. This gave reality to the 
point of view that the origin of writing, of number, and of the 
system of weights and measures grew out of an attempt to solve 
the problem similar to this imaginative one. This problem was 
formulated by asking, How could a merchant trader from the 
Phoenician tribe tell the value of his merchandise as compared 
with that of other merchants? How could he record future ex- 
change of merchandise? Only a word is necessary to link this 
situation with the rdles of the salesman, the commercial trav- 
eler, or the advertising agent of the present. 

The question of records seemed easiest, and the child who 
acted as trader at the time devised his own system of records. 
This was usually a picture of the article exchanged with marks 
by each to indicate the number. Thus a trade of fish for wheat 
was indicated by a bag and a fish opposite each other, with 
marks to indicate the number exchanged. When, however, 
other products were used in quantity, and it was necessary to 
select and name a part from the whole quantity, a more def- 
inite system was demanded. 

The ability to initiate solutions of the problems which thus 
arose varied with different groups of children and with the in- 
dividuals within the group. Parts of the body as means of meas- 
urement were suggested. The distance from the end of the 


thumb to the first joint and the span of the hand were used 
as units of measure. The full length of the fore-arm and the 
pace were also used. The transition from a somewhat irregular 
unit to an adopted unit could usually be obtained from the 
class. For example, the distance from the tip of the middle fin- 
ger to the elbow was used as a unit for measuring cloth and 
called a "cubit." After this had been used in many measure- 
ments, a story was told of a Phoenician who went to trade in 
cloth and, noticing that the men in the market place were of 
different heights, selected the man with the longest arm from 
whom to purchase cloth. The other merchants noticed this and 
called a meeting to decide what should be done. At this point 
the class was called upon for suggestions. One child thought 
that the shortest man's arm might be taken as a standard and 
others stop short of the elbow in their measurements; others 
thought that the tallest man's arm might be used and the little 
man measure above the elbow. When, however, some one sug- 
gested that a middle-sized man be selected, and the rest get 
sticks just the length of his cubit, all agreed that this would be 
the best plan. The next most apparent need was a unit of 
weight. In group discussion they decided that water would 
make the most convenient and common thing to use and talked 
over ways and means of making a standard. Each child finally 
made and paraffined a square box the size of his smallest linear 
unit the distance from the tip of the thumb to the first joint. 
This was filled with water, weighed, and taken as the standard 
unit of weight. 

At this moment of partial solution of their immediate prob- 
lem as traders, namely, that of developing a practical method 
of barter, the children's interest was easily directed to the stand- 
ards and tables of measurement used today. For the shop they 
made their own foot rulers and yardsticks. Many spent spare 
time at home devising scales which were then tested, improved, 
and reconstructed in the shop. The laboratory scales were in 
demand to get the proper amount of clay for ounce, two-ounce, 
half-pound or pound weights. These were molded to the form 
that each child thought most serviceable. Liquid measures 
half-bushel, gallon, quart, pint, and gill were constructed and 


their relations determined by measuring. The numerical sym- 
bols were improved from time to time. The children were 
shown primitive systems of counting. One child introduced a 
diagonal line across four vertical marks to indicate five, the 
common method of tallying in their games. Another child came 
one day and said she knew a new way to count and put on the 
board the Roman numerals to X. The class was then interested 
in seeing how IV could indicate one less and VI one more, than 
V; that X was two V's, and that less or more than X was indi- 
cated by the position of the I to the right or left of the X. The 
pleasure of the class when they comprehended the significance 
of this device proved how much a matter for thought a number 
system had been to them. 


Concurrent with this construction of a number system, the 
need for a more accurate method of written record than that 
of rude pictures was felt. The use of a part of a picture to stand 
for the whole, then a sign to stand for a sound resulting in an 
alphabet was worked out with suggestions from the teacher* 
The arbitrariness of this system was reflected in two alphabets 
invented by the children. All this gave meaning to the reading 
and writing which were emphasized in this year. The symbols 
of social intercourse worked out naturally centered about the 
trader and his experiences. The child, at this stage, still chiefly 
interested in himself, was, of course, the trader. The method 
adopted was that of imaginary travels for exploration and 
trade. Story-telling and dramatization were used as in the pre- 
ceding year. The events narrated at the beginning of the year 
were chiefly confined to the experiences of the past year: the 
trader had met with strange peoples, friendly or hostile; he 
had had to make his wants known by signs; he had asked only 
for things he knew about, and hence his increase in knowledge 
had been slight. As the year went on, however, more and more 
content was apparent in the stories of the children, and ac- 
counts of new processes and devices of manufacture were re- 
lated or demonstrated. The physical features of their play coun- 


try were pictured in map or sand-box. The high, rock coast 
with its stretch of shore along the sea was planned and built; 
lead and iron ore were cleverly hidden in the clefts of the 
mountains to be discovered later; and miniature forests of oak, 
pine, and other trees were set up for the forests. The aid of the 
art teacher was sought in developing the background and set- 
ting for the scene. To give an impression of distance to the re- 
gion, plain blue wall paper was tacked on a frame as large as 
the sand box. On this the children drew a landscape showing 
a continuation of that they had planned in the sand box. The 
blue background served as the sky, clouds were added with 


The main purpose of the work was to stimulate the chil- 
dren's minds to study and, so far as they were able, to seek 
solutions for certain of the problems of the Phoenician type 
of civilization that must be solved in order that progress in 
comfort and convenience in living might be made. Thus the 
children carried out inquiry into the origin of products and 
the development of processes which have transformed modes 
of living from primitive crude forms to the present. The sort 
of houses that they as a Phoenician tribe should build was dis- 
cussed, and it was decided that stone might be used, since there 
was such an abundance. The question of how It could be made 
to stick together was brought up and led to a discussion of lime 
in its native state and its use as mortar. The children then 
turned into masons, made mortar boxes, trowels, and a sand 
sieve in the shop. Lime was procured, and experiments were 
carried on to demonstrate the effect of water upon it. Mortar 
was made and used to build the walls of a typical house of that 
time and region. A bridge was necessary to cross a ravine; 
bricks were made from clay; and the bridge built in the form 
of a keystone arch. 

Some difficulty was found in making the sides of the stone 
walls straight. How this could be done in real building was the 
next inquiry, and the principle of the plumb-line was worked 
out. The globe was used to show how the plumb-line appeared 


with relation to it, and it was found that "right angles to the 
surface" would describe it. "Up*' was then defined as away 
from the center, and "down" as toward the center. This was 
connected with the study of weights, and gravitation was de- 
fined by the children as a force pulling toward the center of 
the earth. Weight represented the strength of this pull on the 
substance. "But hot air goes up" was brought up immediately 
as a contradiction of the law of gravitation. After discussion 
and experimentation it was concluded that those things that 
are heavier, such as cold air, force others, such as hot air, out 
of their way. Liquids, which move easily, are pushed aside by 
moving air or by liquids of greater density. The children were 
helped to relate this fact to the currents of air and water on the 
earth and to develop something of a conception of air pressure. 
They were reminded of the weight of still air and their fre- 
quent experience of leaning against a strong wind. 

Gravitation was taken up from different points of view. The 
earth as a whole was compared with a magnet. The attraction 
of all things toward the center of the earth was defined as due 
to gravitation, and the effect is weight. A barometric tube was 
examined to show that air has weight, and that its pressure is 
its attraction to the earth by gravitation. Some of the children 
seemed to doubt that it was air that supported the mercury in 
the tube. They were allowed to experiment. A small tube was 
exhausted by filling one side of a "U" tube with mercury. The 
end was then sealed and the mercury allowed to flow out at the 
open end until the pressure in the pan sustained the weight in 
the closed tube. They were told that mercury was about four- 
teen times as heavy as water and asked to calculate the height 
of a column of water that could be supported by air. A water 
wheel was discussed and its use seen to depend upon the weight 
of water and the weight referred to as the attraction of gravi- 

One year the children made a large map as an aid to story- 
telling. The Mediterranean Sea was painted in blue enamel 
on the bottom of a galvanized iron pan. The surrounding 
countries were then built up in plaster of Paris, papier-miche, 


and putty, and were covered with enamel paint in shades 
of brown and green to distinguish the mountains from the 
plains. The sea was filled with water, and each trader loaded 
his boat with merchandise and sailed it to the place where he 
expected to trade. Each captain must know his country and 
something of its people. As a search for tin took these Phoeni- 
cian sailors as far as England, the development of navigation 
was discussed so far as the interest and the ingenuity of the 
children seemed to make it worth while. 

In the shop, a rude boat was made. The principle of how to 
overcome friction as much as possible by a pointed bow and 
stern was worked out, and the boat contrasted with the flat 
one made the year before by burning a dugout. The question of 
how a sail worked, especially in sailing against the wind, was 
solved. In the science laboratory the constructive imagination 
of the children was stimulated to suggest ways in which the diffi- 
culties of these first wanderers might be overcome. They saw 
that keeping an accurate record of a route for others involved 
all the difficulties of map making by observation and instru- 
ments and the problem of how to secure a record of distance 
traveled on the sea. For the latter the children first suggested 
anchoring a buoy to which a string was attached which could be 
measured on the way back. From this they were led to the idea 
of measuring space by rate of speed and then to the idea of logs 
and knots as indicating the number of leagues traveled per hour 
by a sailing vessel. Sounding, as a means of finding the right 
depth of water, introduced the fathom or the full stretch of a 
man's arms. 

In one year under another teacher the study 4 included a 
migration (by the class) to Greece, where a highly different 
civilization from the Phoenician was in progress. Here, the ag- 
ricultural conditions and peasant life were described as given 
by Hesiod in Words and Days, The relation of the mountain- 
ous character of Greece to the individual development of states 

* University Record, Vol. Ill, No. 32, Nov. 4, 1898, p. 201. Teacher, 
Katherine Camp. 


was noted. The early Cretan civilization also holds possibili- 
ties to show the growth of early communal and political life. In 
contrast to the dynamic character of this and the early Greek 
civilization, the Chaldean, Assyrian, and the Egyptian, while 
containing many possibilities, were by reason of natural geo- 
graphic situation too static in character 'to make the story of 
the entire human race continuous and swiftly-moving enough 
to hold the attention and interest of this age. 

The constructive work of the group was in accord with the 
many activities of the historical drama they were reconstruct- 
ing. In his study and reproduction of typical industries or oc- 
cupations, constant use was made of the child's power to initi- 
ate, to take crude material, and to find, as the early peoples 
did, the way and the means of fashioning needed results. He 
became familiar with the typical forms of all materials used 
by or about him, wood before it is dressed into lumber, ores, 
or stones, wool, and food. In carrying out some industrial proc- 
ess, chosen for its interest to the children and its typical social 
nature, general ideas of the relation of heat to the solid, liquid, 
and gaseous state of matter were developed. Crystallization and 
the beginning of the study of combustion, because of the neces- 
sity for its control, were carried into the form of questions to 
be answered by definite experiments. From this time on, the 
child can realize that an experiment is a definite question, the 
answer to which is to be used in the process out of which it 
arose. Science, therefore, for this group was connected rather 
than differentiated. It was taken up as involved in the study 
of cooking, or of history, and not as a subject by itself. In cook- 
ing, the child learned to recognize food in its natural forms, to 
classify these roughly as to plant or animal, or as to their nature 
as part of the plantroot, stem, fruit, or seed. In history, as he 
journeyed with his chosen explorers, he was helped to observe 
how life plant, animal, and human has adapted itself to cli- 
mate, to soil, and to physiographical structure; he sees what 
part the large physical forces and processes have played and are 
playing in the evolution of the globe, and how they were and 
are related to the problems of navigation and of commerce and 
have been used to solve these problems. 



Chronologically, there is an impossible gulf between the 
early Phoenician explorers and the world travelers who first 
brought the whole round world into ken. Psychologically, how- 
ever, the child passes swiftly across the gulf of time on the wings 
of his imagination. Eager to get on in the fascinating story of 
discovery, he accepts brief outlines of the intervening years 
as a base for his thinking and finds it easy to go with Marco 
Polo on his voyage of world discovery to the East, with Prince 
Henry of Portugal to the coast of Africa, or with the Spaniards 
to America. 5 

The starting point again varied with the interest of the chil- 
dren and grew out of their class discussion. Sometimes incidents 
in the life of an explorer were told or read by them. As a be- 
ginning of the study of Prince Henry of Portugal, the children 
were asked to pick out on the globe the largest masses of land. 
As each child decided on what he thought was a continent (the 
word was given to them), he wrote its name on the board. In 
this way they located the six continents and then agreed on a 
definition of a continent, incidentally defining an island and 
an isthmus in the process of discussion. 

The question was then asked if any child knew which were 
the first parts of the globe to be explored and inhabited. Most 
of the children agreed on Europe or Asia by eliminating North 
and South America and Africa. Those who had studied the 
Phoenician civilization were the first to develop this idea and 
pointed out the region around the Mediterranean which had 
been explored and settled. They looked at the curious map 
of the early cartographers, showing strange animals in the un- 
known regions and the encircling, whirling sea which was sup- 
posed to surround everything. These and other early notions 

o In some years this was followed by Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, and 
Captain Cook. Books used by the teacher for biographic material were: 
C. K. Adams, Christopher Columbus; Geo. M. Towle, Magellan, Hezekiah 
Butterworth, The Story of Magellan; Geo. M. Towle, Drake the Sea King 
and Prince Henry the Navigator; Captain Cook's description of his voy- 
ages; Edward R. Shaw, Discoveries and Explorers; and Daniel Defoe, Robin- 
son Crusoe. 


of the form of the world interested them and gave them some- 
thing of a feeling of superiority or at least confidence in their 
own vantage point of superior knowledge. 

The limits of Prince Henry's route were pointed out on the 
maphis observatory at Sagres in Spain, and India. Selected 
anecdotes to show his desire to find his way to India around 
Africa gave the children a sympathetic understanding of his 
motives. They then speculated on how he would go about it. 
Most of them wanted him to go through the Mediterranean Sea 
and Suez Canal, finding the names of seas and countries as they 
pointed out the way. 

Digression was made here to tell the story of the hostility of 
the Moors to the Christians, the lands held by each, and the 
efforts the Christians had made to recover Jerusalem. The ef- 
fect of the Crusades in making known to Western countries the 
rich products of the East was pointed out. 

Some of the children thought Prince Henry might build a 
ship like Nansen's, and this led back to the kind of ships that 
were used in that day and the few instruments available for 
guidance at sea. Some of the children had dwelt enough on 
Nansen's thought in arranging for his voyage to see that study 
and planning were desirable. They could therefore understand 
why Prince Henry built an observatory where he gathered men 
for study on the problems of better instruments and methods 
of recording. This brought up the subject of map making, and 
each child was asked to bring in a map showing how he came 
from his home to the school. These maps, finally made by all 
the children, showed a great difference in accuracy. Only one 
child thought of representing the distance by a scale. The ex- 
perience, however, made them appreciate to some degree the 
series of maps in Henry the Navigator by C. R. Beazley, which 
well illustrate the evolution of map making. The children were 
then given a certain amount of detailed instruction in map 
drawing. This was only enough to meet the needs of the mo- 
ment. At the same time the shop director, the art teacher, or 
the special number teacher also cooperated by developing to 
some degree beginning notions of ratio, proportion, and sym- 


The length of time spent in preparation was dwelt upon in 
order to impress upon the children the meagerness of equip- 
ment and knowledge that handicapped these earliest explorers. 
The slowness of the actual start was explained by a description 
of the strong northeast trade-winds and the ocean currents they 
would encounter on the west coast of Portugal. The belief that 
if one went far south he would find that the sea was boiling, 
that men would turn black, and if they got caught in a whirl- 
ing current they would never return, was used to begin an in- 
vestigation of the larger physical forces and relations of the 
earth. They took up the reason for wind and water currents 
starting near the equator and followed them to the poles to 
see how and where they would affect travelers. The value of 
lines of latitude was appreciated when the effect of winds and 
currents upon the ship was understood. The method of locat- 
ing lines of latitude was worked out, first by finding the num- 
ber of degrees in any circle, then in a semicircle, a quarter, etc. 
This was done geometrically. The children also took up the 
use of longitude in reckoning time. They made compasses 
by magnetizing sewing needles and suspending them by silk 
threads in a box on which the points were marked. The attrac- 
tion of a magnet and the fact that like poles repel and opposite 
attract were noted while working with the magnet. 

Most of the children thought that when Prince Henry's men 
landed anywhere in Africa they would meet with negroes and 
were surprised to find that this was not the case, that the black 
people were south of the point reached. Many difficulties were 
met in passing the dangerous coast of Cape Mogador because 
currents from both the north and the south meet here. It was 
only because one captain was brave enough to venture far out 
to sea where the water was more smooth that he was able to 
pass the point. The others followed and thus the explorations 
were continued. 

An account of the capture of some of the natives followed. 
The children's own ideas of what could be done with these 
prisoners were elicited, as this was the beginning of slavery 
and the slave trade. They were told of Prince Henry's desire 
to make them Christians and how the children were often 


adopted, of the early attempt to teach the adults trades and 
its failure because their ineptitude made them unfit for any but 
the most laborious work. The children also noted what might 
be expected in the way of trade with the natives. Certain 
periods each week were given to special study of various forms 
of communication and expression, in particular, that of writ- 
ing the records of their journey or of collateral reading. This 
"journal" was at first dictated to the teacher by the whole 
class and agreement reached as to its form. The hard words 
were put on the board where they could be found when needed, 
and the children really enjoyed the writing and worked hard, 
but without conscious effort. At one time, one or two could 
not form certain letters, and when the piece of work was done, 
time was spent in practice to attain better skill in the me- 
chanics of writing. Parts of several periods were given to num- 
ber work. This was concerned with reckoning the log-book 
of their voyages and computing the total distance traveled in a 
certain number of days. In this process individual problems 
and tasks were discovered, as, for example, certain children of 
the group could not add by threes up to thirty-six. 

Much time was given to the making of individual relief 
maps or to the sand-box picture of the physical features of the 
country being discovered. Discussions were resumed as to why 
Prince Henry's expedition did not get into the interior of 
Africa. Two were emphasized the lack of navigable rivers, and 
the desire to pursue the discoveries by sea. Mountains were 
picked out on a small paper relief map, and the effects of these 
on the climate of this country along the coast was talked about. 
Eventually the desert of Sahara was explained to the children's 
satisfaction. As a good deal of experimentation was necessary 
to explain the causes of climate and the various and character- 
istic forms of life of the different zones, the science work of 
this group took on the nature of an introduction to physi- 
ography. To understand how heat affects climate, they investi- 
gated, with the aid of a taper, the currents of air in the room. 
They found the cold current from the windows sinking to the 
floor and the warm air from the register rising to the ceiling. 
From this they were led to see the effect of the heat of the sun's 


rays In the equatorial zone in producing the trade-winds. They 
first described the direction of these winds if the earth were 
standing still, then the direction because of its revolutions. 
With a thermometer, they found the temperature of water and 
of sand in the room. They then heated the water and sand over 
the same gas flame and noted that while the water soon had 
the same temperature near the source of heat and at the sur- 
face, there was a great difference in the sand, that at the bottom 
becoming very hot and that at the top showing only a slight 
change. From this experiment they drew inferences as to the 
amount of heat absorbed by land and water and the ease with 
which each would give up its heat and the resulting effect on 
climate. The motions of the earth about the sun were discussed 
in order to understand the changes of season and the contrasts 
in climate which the explorers met. The points dwelt upon 
here were the demonstration of centrifugal and centripetal 
forces and the inclination of the earth's axis. A star was placed 
on the blackboard on the north side of the room, a Bunsen 
burner was used as the sun and a ball as the earth; and the 
children were asked to show the rotary and revolutionary mo- 
tions and to explain the effect on climate. The children drew 
diagrams on paper to show these motions, and then watched 
the Tellurian to see especially in different continents how far 
north and how far south the sun was vertical and at what times 
of year. 

Trade beginnings between the Europeans and the Africans 
were then taken up. Connection again was made with the fa- 
miliar, past trading experiences of the Phoenician sailors and 
its helpful results, and they were reminded of the glowing ac- 
count of the riches of India brought back to Europe by the 
survivors of the Crusades. The possible and probable routes 
by land were worked out: that across the Suez and through 
North Africa was studied in detail with special reference to 
desert travel, A few pictures of deserts and camels helped out. 
The group listened with interest to stories of Egypt and the 
ancient monuments still to be seen. This was review to some, 
but new to more than half the children. The fact that deserts 
surrounded the valley of the Nile was pointed out as the reason 


that the culture of the Egyptians had not spread among the 
native Africans. The connection of Egypt with the story of 
Moses and Joseph was reviewed. Space will not permit the con- 
tinuation of this voyage, of the slow advance along the coast 
until Diaz finally rounded the cape and made the discovery 
of a route to India. 

The children also followed Livingstone in his trip up the 
Zambezi, read selected portions of his diary on the character of 
the community and of the plant, animal, and human life. The 
dramatic story of Stanley's search for Livingstone, their meet- 
ing, and the illness and death of Livingstone, faithfully at- 
tended to the end by his native attendants, concluded this bio- 
graphical tale of exploration. Far away Africa grew real for 
it also was the home of men. The study of the physical setting 
rivers, mountains, plains, the jungle and its plant and animal 
inhabitants took on human significance because of their rela- 
tion to the journeys of a man. Livingstone's motives, springing 
from desire to stop the slave traffic, to establish trade relations 
with the natives, to extend Christianity, and to add to geo- 
graphical knowledge, became the qualities that made him a 
leader, a missionary of better ways to live, a discoverer of new 
frontiers. These, together with his devotion and his zeal, stood 
out concretely in his deeds of bravery and sacrifice. The spirit 
of children of this age is in tune with adventure. They thrill 
to its dangers; they understand something of the satisfying fer- 
vor that attends heroic effort. 

Records of their work were faithfully kept. For the most part 
these were dictated, but a regular period was now set aside in 
which each child wrote his own account of Prince Henry. Many 
words were misspelled, even though they had been put on the 
board and the children had been able to look at them when 
writing. These were such words as world, because, boat, about, 
built, etc. A new list of the words which gave trouble was again 
placed on the board by children who volunteered. This was 
corrected, and the whole list of twelve was dictated to them, 
making the third time of writing. Even then, none of the chil- 
dren got all right; two or three were unable to write a third 
of them. In spite of the necessity of repeated effort, the children 


showed a good deal of interest in writing and even volunteered 
to take things home and copy or finish them. It may not be in- 
appropriate to emphasize the importance of recording such 
observations as these. They are the straws that indicated that 
there is a time and a place for the practice of skills, a period 
when such necessary drill is not distasteful to children, when 
they see its logical necessity and crave facility of expression that 
it gives. 


With the beginning of the spring quarter the children of this 
group began the story of Columbus* journeys, resulting in the 
discovery of the American continent. The origin and motives 
that actuated Prince Henry's discoveries were reviewed and 
included the accomplishments of his undertaking. The chil- 
dren were asked to suggest what led people to question the 
idea that the world was flat. To the reasons they gave was 
added the discovery of the reason for an eclipse of the moon. 
The nature of this was made plain with object and globe. All 
the children seemed to know that the earth goes around the 
sun, but very few knew of the revolution of the moon. 

Where and how Columbus lived as a boy and something of 
the geography of Genoa was studied. The nature and names 
of land forms, such as a peninsula and isthmus, a harbor and a 
cape, were discussed and were added to the children's vocabu- 
lary. The children mentioned what they thought would be of 
most interest to a boy who lived in the town of Genoa in those 
days. They compared his liking for the wharves and sailors to 
that of Robinson Crusoe. 6 They told their ideas of what he 
would learn at school, talked a little of why he learned Latin, 

e The collateral reading matter for some time had been the story of 
Robinson Crusoe. "Only two of the children in this group have difficulty 
in reading one who cannot read at all, and one who is gaining, but very 
slowly. In writing, the same two children have difficulty. When this work 
was done from 11:30-12, they were often almost incapable of doing any 
thinking. When this fatigue was general and pronounced, the daily lesson 
in reading or writing was put aside, and a story was read to them. This 
rested them and had an additional value of reenabling the children to 
think and feel as a group in a constructive way.'* 


and whether he would be likely to follow his father's trade, 
that of a wool comber. Some of the new children had had no 
experience with the processes of preparing wool. This was care- 
fully explained to them by the other children. The first sea 
voyage Columbus made at the age of fourteen was taken up, 
and the limited geographical knowledge of this time was de- 
scribed. They recalled that Prince Henry's explorers had gone 
far down the African coast the year th^t Prince Henry had 
died and, from the base of this familiar fact, were able to sur- 
mise that the early -voyage of Columbus was probably only in 
the Mediterranean. They learned of his interest in navigation, 
of his careful collecting of books and charts, of his study, of 
his inheritance of the maps and papers from his wife's father 
who was a captain under Prince Henry, and of his final deter- 
mination to seek means to prove that the world could be cir- 
cumnavigated. This was supplemented by further detailed 
study of Columbus' birthplace. 7 

The children named the countries whose people might have 
been seen at Genoa in Columbus' time. This number was com- 
pared with that possible to be seen by the children in Chicago. 
Chicago was compared with Genoa as a town to which ships 
come, and the differences of present experience from that of 
Columbus' day were noted. The children were told that Co- 
lumbus thought the world was 14,000 miles around, but that 
it is really 25,000. They were asked to find out how much 
greater it is than Columbus thought it was. They also deter- 
mined how long it would take to go around it if one could go 
at the rate of 5,000 miles a day, and at other rates. H. volun- 
teered that he knew "the earth is 8,000 miles through from 
Alice in Wonderland." The children were asked, "If you knew 
the distance of the circumference, how could you find the dis- 
tance through the earth?" Several of the children thought it 
would be half the distance round and measured it to find their 
error. They then measured different circles to get an idea of 
the relation of the diameter to the circumference. None of them 
seemed able to make the generalization, but apparently under- 

7 A present study of Columbus might find some of this material labeled 


stood the ratio when it was given them. A certain amount of 
time was given each week to writing a record of Columbus 
for their books. 8 The facts which appealed to them as worth 
recording were those which were, to some extent, either within 
their experience or were of a sensational character. In the story 
of the boyhood of Columbus, all the children remembered that 
on one occasion he was sent on an errand and stayed all day, 
playing on the wharves. The places he would probably visit 
in his first trip around the Mediterranean had little interest, 
but the statement that once in a fight with a pirate vessel, both 
ships caught on fire and Columbus sprang overboard with an 
oar and swam six miles to shore was remembered and thought 
important enough to be recorded. 

It took some time for the children to realize what a long and 
difficult task it was for Columbus to secure the help he needed. 
These children had an idea in common with many adults that 
Columbus merely presented his case to the queen, and she 
pledged her jewels to have the plan carried out. In order that 
they might realize the real difficulty in getting support for a 
new idea, emphasis was laid upon his repeated attempts, at 
the court of the King of Portugal, at Genoa, and for seven long 
years in Spain, all of which took fourteen years of his life. This 
elicited from the children expressions of great sympathy. They 
then tried to imagine in what form help could come. Perhaps 
some of the money came direct from the King and Queen, and 
two of the ships were levied from a town. 

The group followed Columbus' first voyage in some detail. 
An account of the departure was read to them, and the general 
direction they took through the Sargasso Sea was followed on 
the map. The story included the discontent of the sailors, their 
alarm at finding that the wind blew constantly from the east 
and in the belt of the trade. They learned of Columbus' fear 
lest they might be missing Japan by sailing too far north and 

s These books were started the previous fall and contained their records 
of the voyages of Prince Henry of Portugal and of Livingstone. They were 
in printed form. The printing was done by older groups on the school press. 
The fact that their own story of Columbus was to be included in this book 
added incentive to the keeping of the record. It also helped to keep up 
the needed emphasis on writing during the quarter. 


the consequent shifting of their course to the southwest, which 
took them among the Bahamas instead of to Florida. The chil- 
dren gained some idea of how the speed of a vessel was esti- 
mated in knots, and how Columbus himself always took the 
speed on this voyage to let the sailors think they had come 
less far than was really the case. Otherwise they would have 
become discouraged and insisted upon an immediate return. 
On reading that they "shifted two points to the starboard/* one 
of the children who had been on a sailing vessel drew a sort 
of diagram on the board to show the others what was meant. 
The map was followed very closely in this voyage, both on one 
such as Columbus was supposed to have had and also on a mod- 
ern map. The children made out the direction Columbus was 
sailing at every step up to his landing at one of the Bahamas 
and later to Cuba and along its coast. This was charted from 
day to day from observations of latitude and longitude. 

His return landing near Lisbon, in Portugal, because of the 
severity of the storm was related, and the children suggested 
that he would send a messenger to the King of Spain telling 
him of his arrival. The route was traced by which Columbus 
would then go to Palos where he had started, and up to the 
King at Barcelona. Bayonne was found where Captain Pinzon 
landed with the Pinta. The children were told of this captain's 
feeling that Columbus was lost and of his attempt to take to 
himself the glory of the new discoveries and of his message 
concerning this to the King. In order to see how the moral side 
of this action appeared to the children, they were asked what 
they thought Pinzon would do when he landed. They suggested 
that he would send a message to the King telling him that he 
had returned and that Columbus was lost. When told of his 
real action, they considered it "mean." Some suggested heavy 
punishments, some light because he had been of service in the 
beginning. A description of the reception given Columbus by 
the King was then read to them from The Makers of America. 

The course continued with the study of Columbus' second 
voyage. At a suggestion the children proposed writing and 
staging a play of Columbus' life. This meant an unpremedi- 
tated (by them) and systematic review of the work done. A 


bright interest lit up the old material and gave a new motive 
for a fresh attack. Under this renewed inspiration it was pos- 
sible to correct many false impressions and to emphasize with- 
out undue effort the attainment of necessary skills in the con- 
struction of many types of the communicative and expressive 
arts. It also did much to help the children review and evaluate 
the significant events of Columbus' life and of that period of 

The latter weeks of the quarter and of the year were spent 
on the story of Balboa. The series was finally rounded out by 
the voyage of Magellan. As a start for this, the children sur- 
mised a way for his voyage to the Pacific, of which he had heard 
from Balboa. They suggested that he would look for a water- 
way through the land which he had found. Some of them 
thought this would be a river, and discussed whether the way 
between two oceans would be fresh water or salt. They were 
told of the discovery of the Straits and of Magellan's determina- 
tion, when he found himself in the Pacific, to circumnavigate 
the globe. The children from previous study knew that he must 
expect to meet air and water currents near the equator, and 
that the calm would have to be endured. They were told of the 
distress from the lack of food and water that did occur and of 
the arrival at the Philippines where Magellan was killed. They 
were reminded at this point of Prince Henry of Portugal's ex- 
plorations, that he had gone around Africa and found India 
and that the Portuguese were, in Magellan's time, engaged in 
making settlements on the coast of India. The Edict of the 
Pope at that time, was also recalled, by which he divided the 
world giving the east half to Portugal and the west to Spain. 
The story was continued until finally the home-seeking ships 
rounded Africa and returned to Spain, and made the exciting 
discovery that a day in time had been lost. The last period was 
spent in talking over what they had studied during the year 
and in a character comparison of the men. 

The group teacher 9 at the close of the year's record com- 
ments as follows: 

& Laura L. Runyon. 


The different spirit of the two sections, a and b of this group has 
been interesting, a was made up of children of such decided person- 
ality that the spirit of the group was conflicting and critical. The 
only time when a semblance of cooperative spirit ruled was in play. 
In group b, on the other hand, a congenial spirit ruled with the 
result that they progressed faster and accomplished far more than 
Section a. I have been impressed with the way in which the adventur- 
ous spirit has grown in this class during the year. They seem to have 
gained a vivid image of sea conditions, of tropical lands and natives, 
of possible adventures on sea and land, and an awakened interest 
in recognizing differences between what they know of their own 
environs and the new images resulting from the imaginative study of 
going out by sea into different climates and conditions 

When they take up a new country, it might be of value for the 
children to taste the native fruits and products and attempt the 
manufacture of certain products, such as the making of rubber from 
the caoutchouc, or chocolate from the cocoa bean. This would make 
the work more permanent and valuable; would serve to keep in mind 
the true motive of most explorers, die wealth to be acquired for an 
individual or a country; would help to a better understanding of the 
contact between the civilized and uncivilized, and the results of that 
contact; and would give a meaning to the search for short land water- 
ways in and through a country. It would also seem a wise plan an- 
other year, that early in the fall the children be sent, in school time, 
singly or in twos, on short exploring trips, and be required to re- 
port on , their discoveries. The report should include a map of 
directions as well as the things seen. 

From the point of view of getting a rational idea of the explorers 
and their aims, the work of this year has been very satisfactory. The 
children seem to have a fairly correct idea of what made Columbus 
and the other explorers great, and on the other hand, to recognize 
that some of their deeds were not commendable. They also seem able 
to contrast their own times with those of the men they study, and 
also to compare different countries. 


A hasty reading of this account of the activities of Group V ; 
in its historical story form may give an impression of a very aca- 
demic school. The balance of this group's work was so ar- 
ranged, however, that there was plenty of time for activities 
which engaged the whole body as well as minds and hands, eyes 
and ears. The children were on the playground and excur- 
sions, in the art and textile studios, in the kitchen-laboratory, 


in assembly with the rest of the children, back and forth in a 
round of natural and highly correlated social living. 

As heretofore, the number work was largely incidental to 
the carpentry, cooking, sewing, and science. The children for- 
mulated their own problems involving multiplication and sub- 
traction, or measurement of surfaces. The reading and writing 
was, for the most part, of their own records. In art, the subjects 
for representation were those of their history, done on the 
sand-table, in clay, colored chalk, charcoal, and water-color. 
The scenes and backdrops for their play, especially the Co- 
lumbus drama, were done by the children. The aim was self- 
expression and more skill in visual observation. 

In their music the children were given note-books with lines 
for writing music, and began this year to make copies of the 
songs they had composed. The key in which the song was to 
be written was determined from the piano, then the time was 
noted from what is called the "strong pulses" and was indi- 
cated by putting a bar before each in writing the notes. Last of 
all, the stems of the notes were marked, designating the time 
assigned to each. In the shop work also, emphasis was placed 
on getting the child's idea constructed and comparatively little 
was placed upon technique or finish. Instruction was given in 
the first principles of machines and in handling the materials 
such as lumber, reeds, cane, or bamboo, and in making the 
articles necessary to illustrate their history or for use in their 
experimental work. Cooking, as always fitted into the program 
of the weekly luncheon, and emphasizing an experimental 
study of the proteins of eggs, meat, or milk. 


Certain educational implications of both the subject-matter 
and method of the study of this year seem worthy of emphasis. 
The conditions for learning, and, therefore, for thinking, were 
well set up. For each child of the group the whole experience 
was inherently personal enough to stimulate and direct his ob- 
servation to the connections involved. It led him to inference 
and then to its testing. As he followed his chosen explorer in 


the various laps of his voyage, when problems arose, the child 
was stimulated to forecast possible resultsthings to do. This, 
entailed some inventiveness, for he must jump in thought from 
the known to the unknown, from the old to the new. Such 
imaginative forecasting was for that child creative thinking. It 
had the quality of original research. It fulfilled the essentials, 
of true reflection. These essentials are also those of scientific 
method in all research whether of the kindergarten or of the 
scientific laboratory. 10 "They are first, that the pupil (or re- 
search worker) have a genuine situation of experience that 
there be a continuous activity in which he is interested for its 
own sake; secondly, that a genuine problem develop within this 
situation as a stimulus to thought; third, that he possess the in- 
formation and make the observations needed to deal with it; 
fourth, that suggested solutions occur to him which he shall be 
responsible for developing in an orderly way; fifth, that he have 
opportunity and occasion to test his ideas by application, to> 
make their meaning clear, and to discover for himself their va- 

10 John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York, The Macmillaa 
Co., 1916), p. 192. 




LWO years of experimentation with the school's curriculum 
demonstrated that there are dominant interests and attitudes 
Tvhich characterize definite stages in a child's development. 
These stages are not sharply defined. There are periods of tran- 
sition when one merges into the next. The first of these stages 
is one in which children are largely occupied with direct social 
and outgoing kinds of action, with a progressive increase in 
the complexity of work undertaken and responsibilities as- 
sumed. At about eight years of age they are ready for and feel 
the need of getting skill in the use of tools and knowledge of 
the rules and techniques of work. While the children in Group 
V exhibited many of these characteristics of the second stage of 
growth, the year was markedly one of transition. By the time 
they entered Group VI, however, they were well launched into 
the second stage. 

Some of the important theoretical statements lying behind 
the work of the school were developed through faculty discus- 
sions of the practices of these two groups. In the first stage of 
growth there is always motor activity, and there is always a 
-story, a drama, an image a mental whole. But the two are not 
separate from each other. Acts are not, to the child's conscious- 
ness, means for realizing ideas; they are just spontaneous over- 
flow and exhibition. The child's thoughts are not something to 
be realized; they are the living meaning and value that saturate 
whatever he does. Hence this is called the play period. The 
activities of the first four years of the school were based upon 
the working theory that the child's attitude is predominantly 



of this sort and that it is premature to force upon him work 
where there is a separation of means and ends in psychological 
essence, a divorce of elements, steps and acts from the idea for 
which they exist. This theory accounts for the relatively slight 
and incidental attention given to reading, writing, and numbers 
in the sixth and seventh years and for the attempt to introduce 
geography and science in a synthetic and living rather than 
an analytic and morphological way. It was not supposed that 
conscious relating of means and ends is wholly absent in this 
period or that in school work there is no need of anticipating 
the next stage of growth. Even with six-year-old children, con- 
sciousness of somewhat remote ends begins, and there is in- 
terest in regulating behavior so as to reach results. The change 
to one of conscious direction of action comes easily and hence 
earlier in activities with a tangible result, such as making a 
box to use or cooking cereal for lunch. This working hypothesis 
of the school by no means blocks out the possibility of greater 
use of symbols in what might be called free reading and writing 
during the sixth and seventh years in the form of labels, proper 
names, and brief records of work, when such efforts by the 
child do not divert his energies from the more fundamental 
activities involving the larger muscles. There will always be 
individual children ahead or behind chronological age, but 
readiness to read must be determined by the psychological at- 
titude described above, namely, a willingness to work out 
means for deferred ends. A child who has reached this stage 
of mental development will see in learning to read, write or 
figure, means that will often help him reach his desired ends 
more quickly and efficiently. Too much emphasis cannot be 
laid upon the fact that undue premium is put upon the ability 
to learn to read at a certain chronological age. The child who 
cannot read at seven or eight is considered retarded. The fun- 
damental wrong done young children by the large classes in 
the public schools has of necessity given rise to endless series 
of "readers," so-called work books, which are supposed to di- 
rect activity on the part of the child. The entertainment plus 
information motive for reading conduces much to the habit of 
solitary self-entertainment which ends too often in day-dream- 


ing instead of guided creative activities, controlled by objective 
success or failure. 

In the Dewey School the active and constructive -work for 
children of six and seven held an immediate appeal as an out- 
let for energy. It also led on in orderly fashion to the next 
undertaking and enabled the child to form a habit of working 
for ends and a method of controlling present activities by a 
sequence of steps so that they grew into larger ideas and plans. 
This method of thinking and acting was gradually transferred to 
the accomplishment of ends more consciously conceived and 
more remote. In the eighth year, or that of Group V, such 
transfer was marked. By the ninth, the average child showed 
an evident dislike of attempting to reach results for which he 
felt the means at his command were inadequate. For example, 
he objected to the kind of drawings he had made formerly 
with delight, apparently because he was beginning to see them 
as results which appeared crude and even absurd. 

From observation and discussion of the early work, three 
fundamental working principles were formulated. First, growth 
is gradual; it comes in reading before in writing, and in both 
before in numbers. This does not mean that the child may not 
have used numbers with great interest, as distinct from ana- 
lyzing them and learning the rules for their use. Growth in 
the use of science comes even after that in numbers. Children 
of eight or nine were found to be interested in experimental 
work in science, but not because they conceived a certain prob- 
lem and regarded the experiment as a way of solving it. They 
took hold of experimentation as they did of constructive work; 
it was the active performance of a series of steps; and it was 
"seeing what happens" that occupied their minds. Second, at 
the psychological level of six and seven years, children are not 
yet ready for analysis, for attention to forms and symbols, since 
interest in technique demands a background of experience. A 
stretch of positive subject-matter must come first, enlarging and 
deepening the child's world of imagination and thought until 
he gradually becomes ready to analyze an experience he has 
not yet had, to learn rules that have no immediate outlet in 
action and whose appeal is remote and imaginary. Third, the 


introduction to technique must come in connection with ends 
that arise within the child's own experience, real or imagined. 
It is not enough for the teacher to see the end. The prime psy- 
chological necessity is that the child see and feel the end as his 
end, the need as his need, and thus have an inherent and im- 
pelling motive from within for making the analysis and master- 
ing the rules of procedure. The faculty of the school found that 
these principles could be put into effect only as the formal 
work was in connection with active, constructive, or expressive 
activity 'presenting difficulties and the need of meeting them. 
The technical exercises were selected from such material. Ad- 
ditional concrete material or occupation supplied opportuni- 
ties for using the newly acquired power and realizing its value, 
and the spiral course of the circuit of experience rounded the 
next ascending curve. 


Group VI, the nine-year-old children, was divided into two 
sections on the basis of their previous experience in school. 
Their headquarters were in a rather inadequate room, but 
their study of local history and physiography took them into 
the laboratory of the outdoors. In fact, with this group and 
those above it, the home room and the group teacher assumed 
less and less importance because of the growing physical and 
mental independence of the children. The children were un- 
der the direction of one of the history teachers and her assist- 
ant. 1 In order to secure more time for practice in reading and 
writing, the school day was lengthened to include an hour in 
the afternoon. The year was characterized by the children's 
growing ability in control and self-direction. They often asked 
for extra work to do at home, and when they showed a desire 
to carry on a piece of work alone, they were allowed to carry 
it to completion independently. 

The study of the great explorers and world discoverers the 
previous year served as a transition in the story of social life 

i Laura Runyon, Margaret Hoblitt. 


to the settlement of local adventurers and pioneers. The starting 
point for the study grew out of discussion. As was customary 
in their first meetings, the general possibilities for study the 
coming year were talked over. Thoughts naturally reverted to 
last year's work, and a quick review was made. The adventures 
of Phoenician sailors and traders, of the explorations of Marco 
Polo, Prince Henry, Balboa, Magellan, Captain Cooke, Drake, 
Nansen, Livingstone, or others who had become familiar fig- 
ures to the group were passed in rapid review. At the close, 
emphasis was laid on the English, the Spanish, and French 
settlements in America. The motives which led to all explora- 
tion were discussed. Love of adventure, the lure of El Dorado, 
and in some cases freedom from oppression were mentioned. 
Of all these the children decided that the search for a short 
way to India and her riches was the most powerful. 


The group decided they would like to know more about the 
United States and how it began, and finally agreed that the 
place where they lived would be a good place to start, that they 
would like to know how the Chicago they knew had come to 
be. This had been the teacher's objective; but because it was 
obtained by means of a group process, the children regarded 
the plan as their own. Local museums and historic spots were 
at hand and easy of access. They could even talk with persons 
whose memories still held something of the fact and flavor of 
early days. In such a study definite activities of a particular 
people would be prominent and could be developed according 
to the children's power to deal with limited and positive fact. 
In the study, also, they would use what they had thus far gained 
in understanding of the origins of occupations and the begin- 
nings of social organization outside the family group. From 
the teacher's point of view, the problem was to introduce the 
children to new situations requiring constructive action and 
then help them to analyze, plan, and forecast the various steps 
which might be taken in working out the problem. In other 
words it was hoped that when confronted with the new situa- 


tions of early American frontier life, the children would be 
interested and stimulated to size them up, calculate the re- 
sources of the settlers, and from time to time reformulate the 
probable solutions and the courses of action taken. 2 

Local history and geography, therefore, in this year were 
begun with the study of the Northwest and especially of Chi- 
cago. This was considered in three stages: (i) the period of the 
French explorations, (2) Fort Dearborn and the log-cabin age, 
(3) development of the city of Chicago. In general, for this 
course in localized history the choice of a locality would be 
determined by the local environment and experience of both 
teacher and the group. In this school other experiments than 
this were made. One group studied Roman history. This was 
not altogether successful, as it seemed too remote from the 
present interests and aims of social life. It presented too many 
abstract problems of a political nature which a child of this 
age is not interested in and with which he is unable to cope 
until a later period. 


In the first period the children were told stories of the lives 
of Marquette and Joliet, La Salle and Tonty, with the reasons 
and aims which led them into the west, and their routes of 
travel were traced on maps. 

The related geography was the finding of the great lines of 
travel from the Atlantic through the St. Lawrence and the 
Great Lakes to the Mississippi and the determination of where 
forts should be located. In all cases the class first found where 
the man went and then the later names of the rivers and towns 
with which he was connected. The antagonism between the 
English and the French, and the territory claimed by each were 

2 "Knowledge of the past is the key to understanding the present. History 
deals with the past, but this past is the history of the present. An intelligent 
study of the discovery, explorations, colonization of America, of the pioneer 
movement westward, of immigration, etc. should be a study of the United 
States as it is today: of the country we now live in." John Dewey, Democracy 
and Education (New York, The Maonillan Co., 1916), p. 251. 


explained. The way was then sought by which the French 
would enter unprotected territory, and the points where con- 
flicts would arise. The hostility between the Iroquois Indians 
and the French, the locality of the Five Nations, and the di- 
minished fur trade of the east helped to make plain the route 
the French fur traders must take to reach the Indians of the 
western lands. With the occupation of new territory went the 
necessity for forts. The location of these at points command- 
ing entrances of rivers and portages of the heads of lakes was 
noted, and the reasons given. Politically, these were strategic 
points of vantage from which to carry out La Salle's desire to 
found a new France; commercially, they held the same advan- 
tage as points for reaching the fur trade of the West. Father 
Marquette typified the religious zeal of the times, so that it 
was possible for the children gradually to become conscious of 
the various motives which lie back of all exploration and prog- 

Beginning with the boyhood of Marquette, as a typical mis- 
sionary of that period, the general trend of the French explora- 
tions in Canada and the Lake regions was traced by means of 
incidents in his life. The story of the part the fur trader Joliet 
played, as an explorer, in opening up the West then followed. 
That of La Salle and Tonty and their various journeys were 
sketched more briefly. 

The records note that there was little freedom of language 
in the group, but as the work continued, the children developed 
a great interest in reading and writing, asking to have all new 
words and important names put on the blackboard to copy. 
They began to suggest of their own accord the available sources 
for looking up additional material and spent much time volun- 
tarily finding the meaning and pronunciation of Indian names. 
It became a pleasurable game to have new and difficult words 
used- in conversation or reading aloud, put upon the board. 
This growing conscious demand for something hard, something 
which would last and call out power, efficiency in selection and 
adaptation of means to end, was a frequently noted character- 
istic of this age. 



In trying to discover why Fort Dearborn was built, Group 
Vl-b had followed with intense interest the story of the George 
Rogers Clark expedition. At first they could not understand 
why Clark should think it worth while to make so long and 
dangerous a journey. They were reminded that the capture of 
a few forts meant the accession of a large tract of valuable land. 
One child suggested that perhaps Clark saw it would be more 
easily won when few people lived there than when it was 
thickly settled. The return of a pupil who had been absent 
through the most interesting part of the work was made the 
occasion for a review. This the children seemed to enjoy more 
than their first study. There was scarcely a detail which they 
were not able and eager to tell. They took particular pleasure 
in relating what a hard time Clark had to take Vincennes and 
how it actually was accomplished through the persuasion of 
some friendly Frenchmen without the firing of a gun. After fin- 
ishing the story of Clark they were anxious to write their own 
story of the expedition on the blackboard. 3 Each child tried this 
experiment by himself, the teacher aiding with the spelling. The 
difficulties of composition became very great, however, and some 
of those who had been most eager found that they had little 
to say. As time went on, each week there were two periods of 
drill in reading and writing. In one the children did individual 
work; those who were able read by themselves; others wrote 
sentences from their history on the blackboard; and one child 
who was behind the rest had the teacher's special attention. 
The second period was given to blackboard drill in word build- 
ing by the entire group. On the whole their ambition outran 
their power of accomplishment to such an extent that it was 
difficult to hold their interest in the writing. 

s Careful planning was necessary on the part of the teacher in order 
that the desire of the children to express themselves in writing should not 
be unduly checked by their lack of skill. When, in her judgment, interest 
flagged to the point of failure, she usually stepped in with a proposal that 
she write at their dictation, or in some other way diverted their effort into 
channels affording a flow more in accord with their desires. 



The beginnings of localized history, such as that of Chicago, 
have since been so well worked out in so many places that many 
phases of this year's work have been omitted, and only those 
which show how the continuity of the story was maintained 
are kept. Much time was spent in discussion of the reasons for 
the choice of the site of Chicago, on its importance as a strate- 
gic point in the fur trade as well as the natural meeting place 
for the North and the South, the East and the West. Its im- 
portance politically was brought out by locating the territory 
of the English who now held Canada, and that of the Spanish, 
who for a time were holding the west bank of the Mississippi. 

During all this detailed study, much time was spent in read- 
ing from Stories of Illinois. The children were delighted to 
have a book which they could use by themselves. Several read 
a good deal at home. This particular book proved a great spur 
to one child who had been discouraged over his reading and 
up to this point had insisted that he knew he could not read 
and did not care to have a book. 

A large map of Fort Dearborn had been made by the group, 
and the interest of the children carried over into the making 
of small individual maps of the Fort and the surrounding re- 
gion with which, from constant reference to their book maps, 
they had become tolerably familiar. One section of the group 
was much more interested in the map drawing than the other; 
nearly all were dissatisfied with their first attempt and wished 
to make a second map. Some volunteered to work on them at 
home. One period was spent in making an outline of the work 
of the quarter. This was done by asking the children to suggest 
the titles for a series of stories on the history of Chicago. By 
this means a sequential statement of topics was secured rather 
than the disconnected details which children are prone to offer 
in such a review. 

In a subsequent year, the early settlement of Chicago was 
given over to a trained science teacher * who abridged the dis- 

* Harry O. Gillett. 


covery period and introduced other stories of explorers, which 
brought out the actual geography of the Lake region. This was 
worked out in a detailed sand-map, by assigning a lake and the 
adjoining country, or a river and its basis to each child. Nat- 
ural competition, as well as interest in each other's work, gave 
the children a much better conception of the relation of dif- 
ferent parts of a lake system to each other and of the kind of 
country bordering on each lake or river, than if they had 
worked in rotation upon different parts of the country. In the 
construction of these lakes the teacher discovered many er- 
roneous notions of geography, such as the general idea of a 
lake as an immense, slow river. They thought the water ought 
to flow right through the lake and only gradually worked out 
the notion of a basin holding a large amount of water only a 
small portion of which, relatively speaking, flows quietly into 
the next lake at its outlet. The idea of the great importance of 
the animal life in early times was already theirs, so very little 
emphasis was put upon the dependence of the pioneers on this 
source of supply. It was necessary, however, to spend time 
in developing the idea that the Illinois Indians possessed a 
great asset in their fertile fields of Indian corn and to bring out 
the practical point that the two industries of greatest extent 
and value for the early settlements were farming and fur trad- 

The study of the past was finally linked to the present by a 
discussion of the formation of village government when a char- 
ter was granted by the state. The children formulated the vari- 
ous functions of such a city government. They then took up 
those things which were left to individual initiative and were 
surprised to find that' they far exceeded the others in number. 
In connection with the organization of the waterworks, they 
recalled what they had studied about the sources of water and 
the means of conveying it. Most of them understood the rela- 
tion of the cribs and the pumping-stations to the present water- 
supply, but only one or two were able to suggest ways of pump- 
ing water with such simple materials as a hollow tube and 
leather for a piston. The principle of a pump was connected 
directly with the action of water in the siphons which they used 


to carry water to and from their sand-table lake and river. Al- 
though they seemed at the time to understand the theory of 
the working of a siphon, it was not until the end of the half 
year that they were able successfully to fill and operate a rub- 
ber tube as a siphon. 5 

One year much of the time for construction work was spent 
in the building of a model of Fort Dearborn. This gave in- 
terest and incentive for the development of skills, in the han- 
dling of tools and the use and manipulation of numbers, but 
proved lacking in movement and too difficult an undertaking 
for this age. In another year the village of Chicago and its en- 
virons were constructed in sand. The first stage-coach route, 
organized after the completion of the river-bridge, was incor- 
porated. Along this first road the children saw the beginnings 
of the trade in cattle, wheat, and other food staples, which have 
since made Chicago a commercial center. In the construction 
of the sand-map of this locality such points as the formaLon 
of a sand-bar at the mouth of the river were made clear. The 
extreme flatness of the country around Chicago brought out 
the explanation that the locality is the original bottom of an 
old lake which had its outlet into the Mississippi through the 
Des Plaines river, and that the portage over which the early 
explorers dragged their canoes was a part of the divide upon 
one side of which water flowed through the Lakes into the 
St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other 
side down the Des Plaines and the Illinois Rivers into the Mis- 
sissippi and the Gulf of Mexico. 6 This work demonstrated to 

5 This seems to reenforce the theoretical statement that children of this 
age are not yet able to apply easily any large generalization or abstraction. 

6 "The reason for the placing of any settlement on the Chicago river at 
all was developed over and over again without seeming to have much mean- 
ing to this group of children, whereas another class had found no difficulty 
in seeing the logical conclusion. The former group seemed to show less 
power to invent or reconstruct probable situations or events; and imagina- 
tively to continue a story beyond the point to which discussion had pro- 
ceeded. They possessed, however, in contrast with the other group, much 
more skill in written expression and, with the exception of one or two 
individuals, could, without much effort, rewrite in story-form any interest- 
ing part of the actual narrative." Report of Group VI, 1902-1903, Harry O. 


the children the strategic position that Chicago held geograph- 
ically, and they were easily helped to suggest a canal to connect 
the Chicago River along the old portage with the Des Plaines. 
They also suggested ways in which the canal might be paid for, 
prophesied the boom that would result from the demand for 
cheap land in so promising a place and, with knowledge of 
what had happened, anticipated the collapse that would fol- 
low the boom. In this the facts learned were regarded merely 
as the means for the development of correct judgment. 

The importance of Chicago as a commercial center was 
viewed from the side of geology by reading and discussing an 
article in a current magazine. This was made the starting point 
for a somewhat different treatment of the study of geography. 
Up to this time this subject had been considered as incidental 
and in close connection with the relation of people to a local- 
ity. Following the parallel of latitude of Chicago, around the 
world, the children located and named all the lands through 
which this parallel passed. The zones were then considered in 
their relative position to the sun, and the countries in each 
zone were learned. In this way they became familiar with the 
names of the continents, their relative sizes, climates, and the 
oceans separating them. 


The question of the means of transportation and of repre- 
senting it on the sand-map routes led one group to the con- 
struction of a typical prairie schooner such as brought the fam- 
ilies of the east to Chicago. The work in the textile room re- 
ceived many incentives from this study. The development of 
the loom and weaving was studied. Each group worked out 
special problems such as finding a way to stretch the warp 
strings for regular weaving. One of the children invented a 
heddle although he had never seen one, nor so far as could be 
discovered, the picture of one. The sewing, like the shop work, 
was to supply school needs in the kitchen or sewing room. 

Because of lack of space and opportunities, little of the ex- 
perimentation along the line of pioneer industries which had 


been planned was carried out. A number of experiments in 
constructing the kinds of ovens used in early days proved suc- 
cessful in holding the children's interest and carried over into 
an understanding of the various principles of draft, choice of 
material, etc. in the modern furnace and fireplace. 

The character of the plant and animal life found by the ex- 
plorers in the Lake region was constantly emphasized. Almost 
all the children possessed a large amount of information as to 
what animals live now or have lived in this region. They knew 
something of their habits, much more of the uses of their skins, 
and although a sensational account of fierceness, courage, or 
the reverse was always told first, an account of the animal and 
its habits soon followed. The beaver was chosen as an animal 
for special study because of its importance in the fur trade. The 
children made a list of all animals belonging to the beaver 
family and decided that the common characteristic of all was 
the habit of gnawing. The teeth were examined and their 
chisel shape noted. The use of the tail was discussed, whether 
as a trowel in plastering the dam, or as a rudder. 

Part of the time given to cooking during this year was spent 
each week on experimentation with the particular food pre- 
pared for the class luncheon. The children investigated the na- 
ture of the plant material, both as to its use to the plant and 
its use for food. This, in the course of the year's work, brought 
out the functions of roots, stems, and leaves, and the forms in 
which the plant stored its reserve material, starch, oils, and 
albumen. The children were given the ordinary tests for starch 
and for oils. Albumen they identified as something similar to 
the gluten which they had extracted from wheat. The character 
and uses of the acid and mineral salts in certain foods were not 
dealt with experimentally, as the points involved were too 
difficult for them to grasp. 

The program was rounded out by opportunity for expres- 
sion or representation of ideas in finer forms of activity. The 
subject-matter sprang out of and was in line with the main idea 
of the course and took on the color of its general atmosphere. 
The music was a further study of harmony practice in its rec- 
ognition and in composition, and the expression of ideas of 


harmonic phrases. In art, some of the best work of the school 
grew out of the group's visit to the monument in memory of 
the Fort Dearborn Massacre. Three children posed as the fig- 
ures of Mrs. Helm, her Indian assailant, and Black Partridge, 
the rescuer. Each member of the class also chose a subject from 
the life of Marquette to do in clay, which was cast in plaster 
and hung on the studio walls. 

The records give evidence of a growing recognition by these 
children of the possibility and the desirability of obtaining 
more permanent and objective results than had heretofore 
satisfied them. Each child had also begun to realize that skill 
in control of means was necessary to achieve desired ends. The 
previous vague and fluid unity of his life, when mere play 
satisfied, was broken up. 

Subject-matter was chosen to meet and satisfy the needs and 
demands of this developing attitude. From an historical point 
of view it also differentiated the more vague and fluid unity of 
the race life into typical phases, when individuals and groups 
of men and women, actuated by various motives, met, con- 
quered, and controlled the specific conditions of frontier life. 
The child followed in deed and fancy these actual accomplish- 
ments of mankind and realized the importance of a command 
of method and of skills in thought and action. The problem 
for the teacher was to use selected subject-matter so as to help 
each child recognize his own needs and secure practical skill 
and intellectual control of methods of work and inquiry which 
would enable him to realize results and make contributions to 
the group. In this way learning and increasing ability were by- 
products of purposeful, helpful, and self-directed activity. As 
these particular children felt the need of a better method and 
more skill in picturing the routes their adventurers traveled, 
they were given a cursory but helpful study of two or more 
types of map projection which involved the use of numbers 
and the tools of measurement. The need for accuracy in navi- 
gation was easily understood, and the children were helped to 
think out an appropriate method to use in making a dead- 
reckoning. Their rather unusual ability to do this was without 
doubt due to their unusually varied experience. Again and 


again it was found that, at this age of development, children are 
not only willing but anxious to attain facility in writing and 
number work, in order to carry on a project to a desired con- 

They began also to be somewhat self-conscious in art and 
found free expression most easily in modeling where the ma- 
terial lent itself with fascinating ease to the formulation of an 
idea. The bas-reliefs of scenes from the life of Marquette were 
produced by this group. Comments in the records reveal what 
are perhaps general characteristics of this stage a tendency to 
attack big enterprises without sufficient planning and to drop 
quickly before completion something which proved more dif- 
ficult than expected. Increasing ability to abstract and to for- 
mulate processes made the children impatient of very detailed 
experimentation, and yet they found such detailed work as 
printing exceedingly satisfactory. 

The additional afternoon hour gave more time, approxi- 
mately two hours a week, for studying technique in reading, 
writing, and number work. In the latter the method of a proc- 
ess was worked out, and the rule formulated and used in prac- 
tice until familiarity gave ease in performance. The balance of 
added time was given to experimental problems in science, 
either springing out of or related to cooking or history. These 
nine-year-old children also spent more time in listening to 
reading, due to the addition of literature as a separate subject 
with a special teacher. The English, or literature, had two 
forms. In one, emphasis was on esthetic appreciation of stories 
and poems; in the other, help was given in oral expression. 
German or French was also introduced. 

The study of the settlement of the Northwest and of Chicago 
occupied half of the school year. In discussing the work of the 
second half year the same group was easily led to feel that a 
next logical step would be to study the settlement of part of 
the United States that was unfamiliar to them. A brief review 
was made of Columbus and other explorers, and the story of 
the first settlement of white people in America was sketched. 
The English claim to North America and the story of the papal 
decree which for a time had compelled England to keep her 


hands off the continent were retold. The children were then 
asked to suggest probable motives for American colonization. 
The desire to find gold was the only reason first suggested, but 
when the old-time search for a northwest passage was recalled 
the children thought it probable that this would be an addi- 
tional argument for settling in America. They were reminded 
of the hostile relations of England and Spain and of the Span- 
ish trade in America, and they saw that it would be a great 
advantage for England to have a hold in the new country. One 
child also suggested that perhaps England had not land enough 
at home and wanted more. When told of the economic condi- 
tions in England due to the growth of the wool industry, they 
concluded that the farmers driven out of their farms in Eng- 
land ought to come to America and have farms of their own 
for sheep raising. 


Raleigh's efforts at colonization were taken up. 7 On con- 
cluding them, the children decided that the best plan for such 
future attempts would be the formation of a company to fur- 
nish the money. The East India and the Muscovy Companies 
were touched on in this connection. The children were greatly 
interested in Captain Barlowe's account of his exploration of 
the coast of Virginia. In their opinion the best argument for 
colonization was the opportunity for new homes in this fruit- 
ful land. The story of Captain John Smith then followed, and 
a week was spent on the history of the first year at Jamestown. 
The children were able to anticipate in large measure the di- 
rections given by the London Company with regard to the 
choice of a site and the precautions with regard to the Indians 
and other possible enemies. They were surprised that Smith 
was not chosen for leader and were sure that he would be later 
on. They condemned the "common kettle" in advance, saying 
that the men would be even more lazy if that plan were carried 
out because they would think some one would provide for 
them whether they worked or not. This expression of opinion 

f Course taught by Margaret Hoblitt. 


came from Vl-fc; Vl-a was Inclined at first to think that the 
"common kettle" would be a good thing. The children felt the 
value of Smith's early experience and his self-inflicted discipline 
as a preparation for leadership. In VI-a this led to a conversa- 
tion as to the children's plans for the future. They decided that 
it was a good thing for a boy to look ahead to the life he ex- 
pected to lead when a man and prepare for it. 

The story of Smith's return to England was discussed briefly 
and was followed by the administration of Percy, Lord Dela- 
ware, and Sir Thomas Dale. The children were surprised to 
find that even after Delaware had established a new order of 
things and restored order in the settlement, Percy in his second 
attempt was unable to enforce the laws and control the colony. 
They asked whether he had not had the same power which 
Delaware had possessed, and why, if he had, he did not make 
as good a governor. They were reminded that in their group 
they found one child a better leader than another, although 
the conditions under which they acted and the authority they 
possessed were the same. They were led to suggest the abolition 
of the "common kettle" and the establishment of a system of 
land tenure before they were told of the institution of this same 
reform by Sir Thomas Dale. 

The cultivation of tobacco, the story of its introduction into 
England by Sir Walter Raleigh, and the growing demand for 
it there were told. The necessity in Virginia for some develop- 
ment of the country's resources in order to satisfy the expecta- 
tions of those interested in England entered the discussion. 
Some time was spent on the administration of Argall and the 
events which led up to the establishment of representative gov- 
ernment in Virginia on the basis of a new charter. The oppor- 
tunity for a new form of government offered by the revision of 
the charter was presented, and when asked what kind of gov- 
ernment the people of Virginia would choose if they had their 
own choice, the group proposed that form in which the people 
themselves could have a voice. They were asked if this meant 
that all citizens were to vote directly upon the laws that were 
to be made, but they said, "No, each settlement ought to choose 
some one to vote for them, just as we do now." The actual plan 


was then presented, and the coming of Governor Yardley and 
the first meeting of the assembly described. The children sug- 
gested some of the matters which would be probable subjects 
of legislation; the amount of taxation and the treatment of the 
Indians were among these. 

The study continued with a detailed consideration of the 
house and life of a Virginia planter and his family, the rela- 
tions of the colony with the Indians, its subsequent political 
history, and the changing status of its relations with the mother- 
country. Many questions were asked with regard to contempo- 
raneous English history. The children were jubilant over the 
death of James in time to save Virginia from the kind of char- 
ter which they felt sure he would have made and agreed that 
under the new conditions the colony would be more independ- 
ent than it had been under the Company. They then passed to 
the period of Bacon's Rebellion, taking up the Navigation 
Laws, the arbitrary rule of Berkeley, and the Indian troubles 
as the causes for popular discontent. In Group VI-a party feel- 
ing ran high, the sentiment of the majority being that the gov- 
ernor was right. The similarity in the character of Bacon's dec- 
laration to that of the Declaration of Independence, just a 
hundred years later, was noted, but the significance of the 
earlier rebellion seemed to make little impression on the chil- 
dren. At the close of the study a general summary was made 
by the group and teacher, followed by a review in which the 
children quizzed each other with considerable rivalry as to who 
could ask the hardest questions. 


The study of the Plymouth Colony was then begun. 8 The 
children had already learned something of the religious dif- 
ferences in England, and of the religious freedom which the 
people of Holland had won for themselves. When the story 
of the Scrooby Congregation was taken up, they were accord- 
ingly ready to suggest that the people go to Holland to live 

s Course taught by Georgia F. Bacon, 


when they no longer felt safe in England. They also suggested 
the departure from Holland to America. The question was 
asked as to how they could obtain the necessary funds, and 
finally it was suggested that they borrow money and promise 
to pay back the value of it in timber and anything they could 
find in America that would be of value to the merchants in 
England who would lend them the money. 

The story continued with the settling of Plymouth. Brad- 
ford's account was read to secure a description of the country 
and the first experience ashore. The children asked what the 
women did while the men went ashore and were told of the 
first wash day on Cape Cod. They planned the division of the 
company into families, allotting the single men to homes with 
some one else, and asked eagerly for the men with whose names 
they had already become familiar. They decided also that the 
first building would have to be a fort and after that a common 
house for their supplies. In this connection, they expressed the 
opinion that the idea of having everything in common was a 
bad one, but it was more likely to succeed here than in Vir- 
ginia, on account of the difference in the character of the two 
companies. When asked to plan for the distribution of land so 
that no one should be favored more than another, they pro- 
posed first that the governor make the allotments, and then 
the best places be set aside and not used at all. This seemed a 
needless sacrifice and far from solving the problem. At last, one 
of the children proposed that the Pilgrims draw lots for their 
plots of land. 

The children were asked if they thought people could be 
found now-a-days who would be willing to endure the hard- 
ships which the Pilgrims encountered for the sake of their re- 
ligion. Some said no, and some said yes. The lad who was on 
the negative said that "people are too much hothouse plants 
now-a-days." The others were to support the other side, but 
failed to do so. They were then told briefly of the "spirit wres- 
tlers" who have come to Canada to find a home where they can 
be free or hope to be to live as they think right, and of Tol- 
stoi's sacrifices for the sake of a principle. In the latter they 
were much interested, asking many questions. 


The usual periodic review was given for the benefit of a long 
absent member and proved to be the best thing they had yet 
done. One child who had never before been able to offer any- 
thing but detached statements was able to carry the story along 
without hesitation and with a good grasp both of the general 
sequence and details. Formulation of what they had done had 
at last ceased to be unpleasant to them. 

Reading was continued from various texts. The children 
were anxious for more details than could be supplied. Names 
of people and ships, those who died, and others who were mar- 
ried were among the things eagerly sought after. Among other 
things the question of the common house was once more dis- 
cussed. The children had long anticipated the time when the 
common store would be given up, and were ready for the trial 
of an individual allotment of land in order to encourage better 
effort in the trying times of 1624. They said they thought that 
men would work better if they had a chance to keep the results 
of the work themselves, and that there would be some who 
would not work at all if they could live without it. 


A period was given to finishing their written stories and one 
to reading them aloud. This exercise gave an opportunity for 
a review of the work on the Plymouth Colony in which the chil- 
dren were asked questions suggested by their papers. Later each 
child chose some topic from the story of the Pilgrims. One be- 
gan at the beginning; another chose the first encounter; and 
some could not choose without help. The papers were much 
better than those that they had composed as a group by dictat- 
ing to the teacher and then copying from the blackboard. The 
children worked much more industriously, tired of their work 
less quickly, and showed greater freedom of expression. The 
work was continued through the second period at their own 
request, and one period was given to spelling a list of words 
which they had needed in their writing. 

Subsequent periods were spent in reading aloud the story of 
William Blackstone and the coming of the Puritans from Pil- 



grims and Puritans. A list in writing was made of the principal 
events of this period of history, with the dates. This was the 
result of a discussion in which some of the children had shown 
rather hazy notions of the sequence of events, and they took 
great interest in straightening things out and, when the papers 
were finished, declared that they must be taken care of, for 
they "were worth saving." 

The story of the coming of the Puritans, introduced a discus- 
sion of the settlements made by Roger Williams, Thomas 
Hooker, and others who found the rule of the Puritans too op- 
pressive. The departure of Blackstone in order to free himself 
from the "Lord Brethren" was the starting point of the dis- 
cussion. The children were divided as to the amount of re- 
ligious liberty which ought to have been allowed. One said that 
the Puritans had a right to any plan they chose and ought to 
be allowed to make church membership a condition of citizen- 
ship if that seemed the right thing to do. There was plenty of 
room, so that those who did not agree to this could find another 
place and live in their own way. The same question came up 
again in connection with the story of Roger Williams. There 
was also a similar division with regard to his criticism of the 
settlers for dispossessing the Indians of their land. One said 
that there was room enough for the Indians and the white peo- 
ple too, and that the Indians did not care very much where 
they lived anyway this inference being drawn from the fact 
that they were in the habit of roaming from place to place. It 
was, therefore, all right for the white people to take all the 
land they wanted, if they did not drive the Indians from land 
which they were actually occupying. The children saw that the 
religious intolerance of the earlier settlements was an aid to the 
growth of the new country, since there would be less reason 
for people to scatter if the terms on which they were admitted 
to the older settlements had been less severe. Before leaving 
the history of the New England colonies, the children worked 
out the formation of the Federation of '43, with the causes 
which led to it, its advantages, and its weaknesses. 

The children read accounts of the early settlement in New 
York. They were told something of the Muscovy and the United 


States India Companies, saw the opportunities for trade opened 
up by Hudson's discovery, and were led to suggest a West India 
Company. Young Puritans of Old Hadley, was read aloud. 
The book proved rather too difficult for the children to read 
by themselves. They later proceeded to work out the probable 
course of events in the settlement of New York. 

A study of the physiography and geography of the coast col- 
onies was earned on with the history study and was similar to 
the study of the environs of Chicago. It was supplemented by 
experiments in plant physiology. The topography of Virginia 
furnished topics for the study of the formation of a river system 
and of a mountain-range and was also considered in relation 
to the gradually developing social life of Virginia. At the be- 
ginning of the study an attempt was made to get the children 
to eliminate, one by one, the conveniences of civilization with 
which they were familiar until they began to realize how it 
would seem to live in America without a single railroad, steam- 
boat, or road of any kind except Indian trails and rivers; to be 
dependent upon England for every yard of cloth not brought 
with them, for salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, tea, coffee, and so 
on; to have no fuel except wood, no means of lighting a fire 
except flint, no oil for lamps, no lumber but hand-hewn logs. 
When the children had sufficiently imagined the conditions of 
pioneer life, they were able to picture the English settlement 
of Virginia, as they had that of Chicago, in its physical setting 
and could then reconstruct more easily the typical industries 
that would occupy the people of each colony. As they followed 
the development and progress made in these activities, the 
growing organization of social life became more clear. 

In their study of the probable equipment of a colonial house 
the use of pewter dishes was mentioned. In response to a very 
evident and real curiosity an experiment was arranged to help 
them discover for themselves the constituency of pewter. When 
the children found that it would mark paper, they at first pro- 
nounced it lead with which they had worked the year before. 
The next test suggested was the melting point. They found this 
to be higher than that of lead. It was then suggested that it 
must be mixed with some harder metal, such as zinc; and zinc 


and lead were fused, cooled, and melted again to determine the 
time required to melt a given quantity. While the melting 
point of zinc or lead alone was low, when combined it was 
found to be high. It was then suggested that tin be added to 
see its effect upon the combination. Zinc, lead, and tin were 
then fused, and the combination found to be nearer that of 
pewter. Bismuth brought the alloy still nearer. The children 
were then told that sometimes antimony and copper were also 
added and were given the approximate formula that was used 
in colonial times: 80 per cent tin, 7 per cent antimony, 2 per 
cent copper, 2 per cent bismuth, 9 per cent lead. The pewter 
made was pressed into thin sheets between smoked pieces of 
zinc and then hammered into miniature dishes. While working 
with the different metals, many questions were asked and an- 
swered concerning tests for various metals and methods of pre- 
paring them for use. Other work in science was divided be- 
tween the actual work of planting and caring for gardens and 
the experiments connected with an understanding of plant life. 

In art work the children were able to express their ideas in 
clay and were given their first instruction in modeling large 
pieces. Their models of the Bary lion and tiger were each 
fourteen inches in length and were cast in plaster of Paris when 
finished. The responsibility of keeping the clay moist between 
lessons was placed upon the children, and their interest in mak- 
ing good reproductions kept up to the end. As these pieces were 
large and took a good deal of time, they were occasionally laid 
aside for a lesson in sketching or designing. 

Some of the children in this group were tone-deaf and re- 
ceived individual instruction in music. It was found that they 
could most easily recognize and imitate the G above middle 
C, and could then go to B or D above. These notes were then 
combined in the time of a trumpet or tally-ho call. From these 
notes the more difficult intervals were taken up. Considerable 
success attended this method, and the children who before 
had not beeen interested in the composition of class songs or 
class music were able to help as well as enjoy. 

Physical culture for this group was, in pleasant weather, out- 
door games under the direction of the instructor and, at other 


times, indoor drills. Special attention was paid to planning 
movements and acquiring quick perceptions. 9 

In this year a beginning was made in differentiation of 
studies. In addition, therefore, to the number problems that 
arose in connection with other subjects, a special time was 
given to drill in number work. In connection with cooking, 
problems arose which could be solved by actual measurement. 
For example: if one-fourth of a cup of wheatena (the right 
amount for one person) requires one-fourth of a cup of water, 
how much cereal and how much water will be needed to cook 
cereal for six (or more) children? The child to whom the duty 
of cooking the cereal was given could measure the quantities, 
but this was easily seen to be a tedious process, so the question 
of finding a quicker way was taken up in a separate hour. The 
process used was that of adding small units and then grouping 
them in larger ones, as the children had not studied multiplica- 
tion or division. The addition was also seen to be a slow way, 
and the shorter process of multiplication was explained. 


Group VI had now completed their sixth year of the study 
of social life as mirrored in its occupations. The first three 
years their interests had been in persons their actions and the 
products of their activity. The view of society had been a static 
one. It had not been actively concerned with how these had 
come to be, although curiosity had been gradually awakening. 
The fourth year's work centered in the study of early civiliza- 
tions and the gradual development of social life through dis- 
covery and invention. In this year the children also began to 
see in a dim way that the physical world and all its life are the 
result of the evolutionary process. In the fifth year, by follow- 
ing a few of the great migrations and explorations that opened 
up the continents of the world, they built up an idea of the 
world as a whole, both racially and geographically. In their 
imaginary travels they acquired some knowledge of the place 

Elementary School Record, October, 1900. 


of the earth in the universe and its large physical forces and of 
the means that man has used to meet or employ them. They 
then settled down to the study of a specific people in a specific 
way and learned how, through the agency of individuals, 
groups of persons have subdued the untoward elements of 
their physical environments and have utilized the favorable 
ones. By a more or less differentiated study of the physical set- 
ting (including its biological aspect) they came to realize some- 
thing of the effect of environment upon the occupations of a 
group of people, and the resultant type of the organization and 
character of social life. 10 At the same time, through an ever 
greater participation in the general social activities of the 
school (printing, assembly, outdoor and indoor games), these 
children consciously or unconsciously utilized their subject- 
matter in their present community living. 

10 Georgia F. Bacon, "History," Elementary School Record, November, 
1900. This section contains the substance of the above article. 




^NE of the sections of Group VII was under the direction 
of the head of the textile department, and the other of the 
director of history. 1 These groups met in one of the dining 
rooms and in one end of the kitchen laboratory, which was 
also used for discussion and recitation. Their study centered 
around the activities of the colonial period. The study of the 
development of the textile industry set the trend of their in- 
terests, which were mainly in the invention of mechanical de- 
vices and the discovery of processes. There was an increasing 
amount of individual research at the ten-year-old level and a 
corresponding gain in the power of self-direction. 

It had been assumed, up to this time, that the interests and 
attitudes of boys and girls were similar, as no marked dif- 
ferences had been observed. One of the first instances of a dif- 
ference, probably reflecting the study of the colonial period, 
was the division of labor which naturally developed in the 
construction of the colonial room, one of the projects under- 
taken as a group. The boys, of their own volition, chose to 
build the furniture for the room, and the girls undertook the 
making of the bedding, rugs, and other fabric equipment. 
However, both worked together on the construction of the 
fireplace, which was an entirely new enterprise and, therefore, 
highly interesting to all. There was a marked increase in the 
amount of time given to chosen interests and activities in out- 

i Althea Hanner, Georgia F. Bacon. 



of-school hours, which was a happy indication of the good re- 
sults of self-initiated, self-directed, and increasingly meaning- 
ful occupations. There was great inequality in the ability of 
the group in using die tools of communication. Consequently, 
it must be kept in mind that the basis of grouping was not skill 
in the use of any kind of tool, nor chronological age. It was 
harmony and fitness as revealed in social attitude. This har- 
mony was often disturbed by the introduction of pupils from 
other schools. 


The history for this group was a study of the growth of 
unity among the different colonies, the resultant growing in 
independence of England, and the social and political develop- 
ment that followed. One week was spent in reviewing the con- 
ditions in America, previous to the revolution. The develop- 
ment in government, the cooperation needed among the 
colonies, and the growth of the home industries were discussed. 
The group talked of the various ways that the colonists be- 
came acquainted through the growth of the longshore trade 
and the increased travel on the improved main highways, such 
as the road from Boston to Philadelphia. Correlative with this, 
they studied the geography of the colonies and the develop- 
ment of agriculture, how the homes and towns and villages 
were organized and governed, and the various industries that 
occupied the people. 2 

As class and teacher grew acquainted, many in the group 
were found deficient in ability to read or write with ease and 
proficiency. In consequence and after discussion, the group 
decided to give, for a period, much time and attention to col- 
lateral reading. This reading was planned to give a review of 
work previously covered and to lead up to the period imme- 
diately preceding the revolution. Writing lessons were also 
begun, supplemented with drill exercises on words or con- 
struction that troubled them. Most of the children entered into 

2 Course given by Georgia F. Bacon. 


this arrangement with whole-hearted acceptance of its being 
the best way out o a bad situation. They recognized that they 
could not go on with the term's work until they could read 
the books that held the necessary information. Each day they 
asked for a lesson to prepare at home, and at the end of the 
three months, with the exception of two children, they were 
able to read independently enough so that regular historical 
work was again resumed. 

In reviewing the work of the previous year on the Virginia 
and Plymouth Colonies for the benefit of the children who had 
not done that work, the social differences between the two 
colonies seem to have made a great impression on the group. 
Their work on the products of New York carried them into 
a discussion of the kinds of occupations which could be carried 
on in such a country as Holland. They concluded that the 
Dutch necessarily would be a commercial and manufacturing 
people, and were told of the commerce of the Dutch with the 
East Indies and of the length of time it took to make the trip. 
They looked at the map and concluded that it would be much 
shorter to go straight west, if only America were not in the 
way. They knew from their study of the Virginia Colony that 
the Europeans believed the American continent extended only 
as far west as the Allegheny Mountains, and that the great aim 
and end of all discoveries at this time was to find the rumored 
passage which extended through the continent. 

The discoveries and explorations of Henry Hudson, the 
formation of the great companies, and the necessity of asso- 
ciated capital for the great enterprises of the time were dis- 
cussed. The group followed Hudson on his trip up the Hudson 
River, heard of his seizure by the English and his second trip 
to Hudson Bay under the patronage of the English people. 
They referred constantly to the map, traced out the country 
drained by the tributaries of the Hudson Bay, and were inter- 
ested to know that this territory had since changed hands. They 
then took up the establishment of trading posts at Fort Orange, 
discussed the fact that only men came over at first and the 
company's feeling that they must induce families to accompany 
them so that the trade with the Indians might be permanent. 


For a better understanding of the manorial relationship, they 
were told of the old feudal system of Europe and were much 
amused by the fact that, after it had been discarded in the old 
country because it did not work, people could be so stupid as 
to establish it in this country. 

The home life of the colonists on the manor in New York 
was taken up, and the construction and furnishings of their 
log cabins, the clothing they wore, and the food they ate were 
all imagined. They then discussed the crops raised, the neces- 
sary preparation for market, the mills which were run by 
wind power, and the markets to which the grain was sent. Each 
day one child reviewed the work of the day before, the rest 
supplementing. To this story the teacher added enough mate- 
rial to keep it moving. 


In connection with this rather extended and detailed study 
of the home life of colonial times, the group planned and car- 
ried through the furnishing of a colonial room. 3 The first deci- 
sion was for a fireplace large enough for an actual fire, and 
stones were immediately collected and sorted. A four-post bed- 
stead was planned, a colonial chair, a tall clock, and a spinning- 
wheel. The girls said they would dress a colonial doll for the 
room and weave a rug for the floor. Work was begun on the 
furniture, and in fourteen days they had finished the bedstead, 
the feather bed and bedding for which were made at home. 
The stone was ready for the fireplace and work had started 
on the clock, the spinning-wheel, the table, and the chairs. In 
this process all the suggestions originated with the children, 
who also brought in drawings of their plans. The fireplace was 
a group undertaking. The pattern was drawn; the chimney and 
the hearth were lined with asbestos. In their first attempt at 
mortar, the lime had not been slaked, so they pounded and 
wet it and used it immediately. This seemed to work all right 

* This project was under the supervision of the shop director, Elizabeth 
Jones, although the cooperation of the textile and art departments was 
much solicited. 


at first, but the mortar when dry, crumbled, "So," the report 
reads, "we shall have to do the work all over again." The tall 
clock, one chair, the center table, and the rag carpet for the 
floor were completed. This took two weeks, then they started 
rebuilding the fireplace. The old mortar was cleaned off and 
more stones collected. This time the water was put on the lime 
at night and allowed to stand in order to slake adequately, with 
the result that the mortar hardened properly. The whole group 
of children worked for a half-hour period, and two remained 
to finish it. Bent iron was used as a frame to hold the stone 
work of the flue, and the crane they had made was placed in 
the fireplace as they built it. There was great excitement upon 
the occasion of lighting the first fire and great joy and satisfac- 
tion at finding that the flue drew well. One of the boys, quite 
unaided, contrived a little spinning-wheel on his own scroll- 
saw at home. The window spaces were cut, window casings 
made, and the glass fitted to place. One of the children brought 
a small mirror; a circular frame was made for it; and a picture 
of George Washington was hung upon the wall. This group 
spent more time in the shop than any other one group. The 
children worked as individuals as well as cooperatively and 
discovered for themselves the use of mechanical drawing in 
making their plans. These were well drawn and exact and were 
found good guides in cutting the wood. The place in their 
method of an exact working drawing, therefore, was more 
secure than if they had been required to use it through all the 
previous years when exactness was not a fundamental necessity, 
and the formation of a habit of the use of an exact method was 
weighted with an emotional pleasure which made it a per- 
manent acquisition. In addition, they also constructed a large 
loom and shuttles for use in their textile work and caned a 
number of chairs for the school. 

The time and labor which the group expended in furnish- 
ing this room brought home to them something of what it 
meant to the pioneer families to be dependent upon them- 
selves for shelter, for food, and for clothing. They saw how the 
beginnings of many occupations and industries rose out of real 
and pressing need, how certain individuals and communities 


became experts in making certain things or in raising certain 
crops, and how trade began. As the means of communication 
improved, the exchange of various products, the growth of 
agriculture, the home manufacture, and commerce with the 
mother country also increased. The children compared the 
social life of New England with that of the Southern colonies 
and discussed the products that would probably be exchanged. 
They decided that New England would lead in the manu- 
factured products, and the South in farm produce. They saw 
that this rapidly growing trade between the colonies would do 
much to knit them together, to make them more dependent 
upon each other and less dependent upon England, and would 
lead to jealousy and interference by England. 

To make this a concrete experience each child became an 
imaginary captain who described his home, telling what long- 
shore cargo he carried, where he unloaded, and what he took 
with him on the return journey. They were told the current 
point of view that the colony existed primarily for the good 
of the mother-country. Then followed much discussion as to 
how England would be able to make money out of the colonies. 
This introduced the Navigation Laws, and each child pointed 
out his idea of the effect these laws might have on the pros- 
perity of his captain. The development of the home industries, 
which resulted from restrictions put upon trade by the mother- 
country, and worked out in great detail, the wool industry 
being chosen for special study. The children were expected to 
do most of their own reading. Reference was made afterwards 
to the map, and helpful geographical facts were explained. The 
usual procedure was to draw a quick map of the eastern part 
of the United States with strong characteristics of the coast 
line, and on this were located the places and incidents dis- 


The study of the French and Indian War was then re- 
viewed. The children saw that this war had taught the colonists 
their own power and had given them military ability and 
training. The question then came up as to who should pay for 


the war, and the children read the story of the Stamp Act and 
its results. 

The logical sequence of the events that followed were seen 
as the results of the Stamp Act. The Molasses Act was reviewed 
and the revenge the colonists took in refusing to import goods 
from England. It became clear how the navigation acts resulted 
in smuggling by the colonists, and how it came about that the 
English gave their officials authority to issue writs of assistance. 
An imaginary individual case followed. They were told of 
James Otis, who resigned his position as attorney under the 
King in order that he might try a case of this sort for the 

Collateral reading dealt with the results following the Stamp 
Act, its nullification, the taxing of tea, and the Boston Tea 
Party. Two or three days were spent in this reading in order 
that the children might secure a detailed picture of the times 
and thus sense the intense feeling that was rife in 1775, espe- 
cially in Boston. The story of Paul Revere was read, and four 
of the children who had been east described different places 
in and around Boston. Most of the children had read many 
stories of this time and were delighted to find the historical 
setting of these stories. M. told of the boys in Boston who 
remonstrated with the British officer over the interference of 
his soldiers with their sports. When the group heard of the 
Quartering Act and the placement of British soldiers in Bos- 
ton, M. was much delighted to find that her story had really 
happened at that time, that it had a genuine setting in both 
place and time. 

The children read the accounts of the battles of Lexing- 
ton, Concord, and Bunker Hill out of school hours. They were 
far more interested in planning the campaigns and surmising 
and forcasting the movements of both the British and Con- 
tinental Armies than they were in the gory details of the bat- 
tles. Class discussion brought out why the battles were fought 
in these places and the preparations made for them by the 
Americans. The account of the capture of Ticonderoga which 
supplied the Americans with ammunition and arms, the siege 


of Boston, and its evacuation by the British then followed. 
The children were much interested in how Washington ac- 
complished the reorganization and drill of the army and 
amused that the northerners thought Washington a "dude." 
They were much impressed with his character and especially 
his patience while waiting near Boston for munition sup- 
plies. When asked "What are the qualities of a great general?" 
they decided that one highly necessary characteristic is the 
ability to imagine what the enemy will do and prepare to 
frustrate that plan. 

The class was asked to forecast what the British would do 
after leaving Boston. At first they were at sea, but finally agreed 
that the best plan would be to try to divide the colonies. After 
the reminder that there was an army of British soldiers in 
Canada, and with the relief map of the United States before 
them, the group decided that the British would attempt an 
approach to Lake Champlain both from the north and from 
the Hudson River Valley. The children then realized that a 
forest would be an impassable barrier for the army and were 
told of Howe's plan for Burgoyne and St. Leger to come from 
the north, while he advanced up the Hudson River, with a 
meeting near Albany. This accomplished, the colony would be 

The aim of this course was to emphasize the geography of 
the country rather than the sensational features of warfare. 
To this end much time was spent on map work, and the chil- 
dren were encouraged to plan the campaigns of the war them- 
selves, to select important strategic points, and decide what 
moves would be made, on the one hand to capture, and on the 
other to defend. The children grew so interested that a large 
relief map was begun, and the various campaigns of the war 
were worked out under the direction of a leader chosen by the 


Two periods were spent in the discussion of the Declaration 
of Independence and the attitude which the different colonies 


took toward its acceptance. The terms of the treaty at the close 
of the war were discussed, and the United States territory in 
1783 was traced on their map. The remaining time was spent 
in a brief study of the territorial expansion of the United 
States after the war, and of her gradual growth in unity. They 
were told how Lousiana, then extending from the Mississippi 
to the Rocky Mountains, came into the possession of the United 
States; they reviewed the Lewis and Clark expedition down 
the Ohio River, up the Missouri, and across the mountains into 
Oregon and the claims of the United States to this region, 
based on this exploration and those of its early settlers. They 
did much collateral reading and spent two periods a week in 
writing a story of the Revolution based on one that they had 
heard read. At this time they became much more conscious of 
the looks of their papers; several even voluntarily copied them 
in ink. 

The topic of territorial expansion finished, they took up in 
more detail the current trouble with Spain; the children them- 
selves furnished a good many of the pertinent facts. The result- 
ing treaty, which involved the question of quelling difficulties 
in the Philipines, the acquisition of Porto Rico and one of the 
Ladrone Islands, and relevant discussion included a critical 
survey of how the Hawaiian Islands came into the possession 
of the United States. A short sketch of their discovery by Cap- 
tain Cook was given, of the subsequent migration thither of 
missionaries and speculators, of the gradual, general immigra- 
tion of foreigners, and of the final request of the white popula- 
tion that Hawaii be annexed to the United States. 

The story of the purchase of Alaska from Russia by the 
United States then followed; its climate was reviewed; and 
the reasons why it was valuable to the United States. The gold 
of the Klondike was first thought of, but on thoughtful con- 
sideration the children found that its gold resources were not 
known at that time. They then suggested sealskin as a valuable 
product and were told something of the trouble between Eng- 
land and America over the seal rookeries and of the boundary 
dispute between the two countries. 



The introduction of industries necessary to provide food, 
clothing, and shelter for the early pioneers naturally brought 
many changes, changes which did much to shape the subse- 
quent political history and the social life of each community. 
Each house at first was its own producer, but even here there 
was a division of labor. The study of social life was largely one 
of the gradual development of its industries, the increased ef- 
ficiency through invention of machines, and the social reor- 
ganization and adjustments that follow the introduction of 
labor-saving devices. The textile industries in particular offered 
much material and opportunity for individual investigation 
and reinvention. The processes carried on in the home in- 
dustries of the period suggested much study and experimenta- 
tion in the cultivation and preparation of wool, flax, and cot- 
ton. The group, after examining the different fibres, took flax 
for special study. They agreed that so fine a root would need a 
light soil and searched the map for river valleys which would 
furnish the right conditions. The valley of the Nile, together 
with Belgium and Ireland, were found to answer the require- 
ments. Methods of sowing the seed were then discussed, and 
the children decided that flax sown for seed only should be 
scattered more than that to be cultivated for the fibre. Some 
were sown in a window-box for observation, and that which 
had been grown the year before was used for experiment. This 
was soaked to soften the fibres and heckled with a heckle de- 
signed by a member of the group. The spinning of flax was 
demonstrated for the class by a German woman, and some of 
the children tried to learn, but the time available was too 
short to allow very satisfactory results. There was some ex- 
perimenting with dyes. Various combinations of madder, fustic, 
Brazil wood, alum, potassium bichromate, and copper sul- 
phate were tried. (Group X later chose, from the mounted 
samples of these dyes, a color to be used in a screen they were 
planning.) Two of the group made soap, using lard and caustic 
potash. Others attempted to bleach a piece of linen, which had 


been woven by a member of the group, but without much 

There was also weaving of Indian mats on the looms that 
had been constructed in the shop. Designs in color were made 
for these mats in the art studio. The children also worked in 
clay and water color, choosing from their history such subjects 
as were adapted to their purpose. In making a relief of Wash- 
ington taking command of his army, they studied the costumes 
of the time and the face of Washington himself in order to re- 
produce them to the best of their ability, and took turns in 
posing for the group. The work in water-color was designed to 
emphasize arrangement, color values and relations. A study of 
perspective was also begun. 

The aim of the study of the period of American colonization 
was not to cover the ground, but to give children of this age 
some knowledge of how social processes were used to secure 
social results, how obstacles were overcome and means con- 
trived to attain these results. The ulterior problem was by this 
method to bring the child to recognize his own need to secure 
practical and intellectual control of such methods of work and 
inquiry as would help him attain desired results in his own life 
situation. Pioneer life afforded many illustrations of patience, 
courage, ingenuity, and continual judgment in adapting means 
to ends, even in the face of great hazard and obstacle. The 
material is so definite, vivid, and human that children of this 
age can readily imagine and reconstruct situations and fore- 
cast results and solutions. The method involved the presenta- 
tion of a large amount of detail, the minutiae of surroundings, 
tools, clothing, household utensils, foods, modes of living day 
by day. Social processes and results thus became realities. When 
younger, the child had identified himself in dramatic action 
with the persons of his interest. Now, there begins an intel- 
lectual identification; the child puts himself at the standpoint 
of the problems that have to be met and rediscovers, so far as 
may be, ways of meeting them. 

The same general standpoint, the adaptation of means to 
ends, also controlled the work in science, now differentiated 
into the geographical (in its relation to social groupings and to 


industry) and the experimental. The child learned to appreci- 
ate that the natural environment affords resources and presents 
problems, and was helped in his understanding by field ex- 
cursions, planned that he might make his own observations. 
These observations of a local situation, of what certain people 
have done in a particular environment, furnish the data which 
the child's constructive imagination uses to image more remote 
environments. Out of it all, he abstracts his own general state- 
ment of the probable relationships between physical char- 
acteristics, the soil and climate of any locality and its natural 
and commercial products, its typical industries and social 
groupings. The idea of the physiography of North America, 
and in particular that of its eastern coast, gradually became 
related in the child's thinking to the doings of the various 
groups of colonial settlers. It took on a concrete dress of mean- 
ing and gradually extended into a large truth which the child 
found could be used in his thought about more remote situa- 
tions. This idea of the relation of habitat to people, gained in 
the study and discussion of a relief map of North America, be- 
came more significant as the children set about constructing 
their own map. They found many deficiencies in their method 
and skill in drawing maps. In order to get an idea of propor- 
tion and of drawing to scale, they took up the relative sizes 
of different bodies and met with the problems of dividing a 
whole into its parts and the process of factoring. Individual 
experimentation went on with the drawing and dividing of 
rectangles into any number of parts, one or two children dis- 
covering that if they doubled the divisions in one direction, 
they could halve them in another without changing the num- 
ber of parts. They also learned to use a compass and how to 
measure a circle. After measuring the home room and making 
a drawing of it, they made a map of the school grounds and 
were then ready to start on their map, which had now ex- 
tended to one of the whole world. 



In the meantime the geological history of North America 
was being studied. The children learned the difference between 
old rocks that had been subjected to heat and those that had 
been laid down by water, and examined specimens of granite 
and of limestone. They pointed out the Laurentian Hills as 
part of the original skeleton of the continent. They talked 
about the effect of glaciers upon soil, compared the soil of New 
England with that of Virginia, saw the difficulty of clearing 
the former because of the glacier action, and decided that it 
would take much longer to settle this part of the country than 
to open up the West. In talking of the easiest ways west across 
the Appalachian Mountains, some thought of the Potomac, 
others of the Mohawk Valley and were pleased to find that 
the railroads in New York State were along the Mohawk. 4 

In the experimental aspect of their science, interest cen- 
tered in how processes yield results. Their work in physiology, 
therefore, began from the functional side. After a little study 
of the mechanics of the various types of levers and a talk on 
the use of muscles in the body, they began by moving the arm 
to discover the muscles by which this is done. They knew, of 
course, that the upper arm must have one bone and the lower 
arm another, and that both were moved by muscles. By feeling 
and with the help of diagrams they worked out the places 
where the muscles were attached, bringing out the fact that it 
would be of no use, were both ends of the muscle attached to 
the same bone. The function of the nerves was then taken up, 
and the concept developed that the nerves are the paths of the 
""feeling and moving messengers" which go to and from the 
brain and make the muscles move. Ingoing nerves from the 
muscles make us aware of what is happening. 

A study of the eye was begun by seeing that the image of a 
candle passing through a small roll of paper is inverted. The 
children were also shown the way a ray of light passes through a 
convex lens and from their own observations drew the conclu- 

* From typewritten records of Group VII (ten years). Teacher, Mary Hill. 


sion that to have a correct image on the retina of the eye some- 
thing corresponding to a lens would have to be in front of it. 
They then set up and carried through the experiment of the 
image of the candle flame through a pinhole in a paper. They 
tried putting a lens in front of the pinhole, found the difference 
it made, and decided that the chief difference was in the focus. 

The physiology of digestion led to some experimental work 
with foods in the cooking laboratory. This began with the 
determination of the different amounts of water which would 
be needed with six different cereals in different quantities of 
whole and fractional cups. In the work of the three previous 
years, the children had found that in cooking, flaked corn 
would take its own volume of water, and that by weighing 
each cereal against the flaked corn they could determine the 
amount of water required for that cereal. This was done for a 
fraction of a cup and then for larger quantities. They then 
weighed twenty grams of wheat flour, let it stand for a time 
in water, and filtered off the water. This water was then heated, 
and the children saw that it became milky and compared it 
with heated water containing some white of egg. They had 
previously tested the filtered water with iodine for starch. This 
water was then reheated and refiltered three times in order to 
remove all the albumen for weighing. The object of the experi- 
ment was to find the proportion of soluble albumen in wheat 
flour. Comments on the experiment were that the result ob- 
tained by two in the class was a good deal below what it should 
have been, owing to the number of handlings the materials 
had to undergo, that the class as a whole had improved very 
much in the way the apparatus was handled, and that this 
should improve the results of the next experiment. 5 This 
quantitative analysis was repeated with a number of flours, 
with milk, and with meats. The class had difficulty in trans- 
lating the results of the experiments into percentages, so the 
experiments were temporarily dropped, and percentage was 
taken up. The children formulated their own multiplication 
tables and drilled on them, changed measures of the English 

Typewritten records of the school, 1900. Teacher, Mary Hill. 


system into those of the metric, and solved and wrote problems 
involving these processes. 

At the beginning of the next term teacher and group dis- 
cussed the work of the preceding term. The children felt they 
"had changed around a good deal." They had "begun with 
the body, after that experiments, and then a good deal of 
number work." They were told that this term they were going 
back to physiology, that it was necessary to know something 
about foods before studying physiology, that it was also neces- 
sary to learn how to make experiments, and that it was easier 
to experiment with flour and milk and meat than with animals. 
They were also reminded that when they did make experi- 
ments, the results were of no use to them because they did not 
understand how to use numbers, and this was the reason for 
dropping the experimental work and studying numbers. 

This explanation seemed satisfactory to the group, and dis- 
cussion then began about the differences between plants and 
animals, one boy suggesting that, "they had different foods 
and different ways of taking them." Experiments followed on 
the conditions and food necessary for growing plants. These 
led to a discussion of the differences between plants and ani- 
mals in this respect. Many excursions were made to Jackson 
Park for specimens of plant life and for toads' and frogs' eggs 
which were placed in the aquarium. As the course went on, the 
group became much interested in biological problems and 
asked many questions about different species. The monkey and 
the descent of man aroused the most curiosity. One period, 
therefore, was spent on an account of the Darwinian theory 
of the origin of species. The discussion then turned to the 
different classes of animals. The vertebrates and the inverte- 
brates were given them as the two great divisions. Under the 
vertebrates the group discussed the amphibian, since they had 
been studying the toad, and under invertebrates the insects, 
with which they were all more or less familiar. The class also 
made a study of the earthworm. 

Records were written by the children of their excursions, of 
the dissection of the frog, and of the material read aloud to 


them on the habits of toads. They learned a good deal of the 
technique of making drawings of their work. These, toward 
the end of the course, were of quite excellent quality. In con- 
nection with their experiments with plants and the making of 
a nutrient solution for their plants, they had had need to use 
metric measurement, and time was taken to study this system 
and to make cubic centimeter measures. 

In addition to the number work which was incidental and 
necessary to their laboratory work and other activities, the 
group spent a great deal of time mastering techniques in the 
various number processes. This was done willingly and often 
with evident enjoyment. The work began with the four funda- 
mental processes. The children worked out their own tables, 
and made up problems of their own. Some of these were long 
and complicated, involving several processes. "A woman had 
40 hens; each laid 8 eggs; she gave away 24 eggs; she sold the 
rest at 2 cents apiece; she has $80.00 in the bank. How much 
did she have altogether?" Every night each child wrote out a 
problem and brought it to school for the class to solve. They 
then asked to have these printed and decided that they would 
write an arithmetic. When learning the multiplication table 
they also tackled division, C. volunteering the information that 
if the division tables were the opposite of the multiplication 
tables, you could prove the answer of multiplication by divid- 
ing it by the multiplier. All the children tried it to see if it 
would come out as C. said and thereafter were never satisfied 
until they had proved every example. They wanted to go on 
immediately to long division so they could prove the multi- 
plication problems where the multiplier contained more than 
one figure. This group experience demonstrated clearly that 
this year is the peak point of interest in a skill just for sheer 
pleasure in manipulation. Children of this age thoroughly en- 
joy playing with numbers. This interest, when added to an 
increasing desire to acquire skill because of its use in some 
other activity, makes this year an important one in which the 
child can easily and happily acquire many of his skills and 



In their earlier years these children experimented just to see 
what would happen. At ten years they experimented to find 
how materials or agencies must be manipulated to give certain 
results. Since the predominate interest is still in practical re- 
sults, the study of this period is a study of applied knowledge, 
of applied science. In cooking, the child learns the general 
principles of cooking by means of experimentation. He ana- 
lyzes typical foods and observes the effect of heat and other 
agencies upon the component parts. He classifies the food ac- 
cording to its constituents and deduces his own rule or recipe 
for its approved treatment. At the close of his study he is able, 
in a guided group discussion, to make certain large classifica- 
tions of food, to arrange his cooking recipes according to these 
classifications, and to state the general principles governing the 
right treatment of these so that they are suitable for digestion. 
His study of food, therefore, through his own guided experi- 
mental handling of it, becomes linked, in his thinking, with 
the digestive processes of his own body and thus brings him 
back by the route of logical thinking to the subject of physiol- 
ogy. In sewing also, methods of cutting and fitting dolls' clothes 
were gradually accepted as good means to get desired results. 
Certain designs could be adapted to certain fabrics better than 
others; certain dyes gave more pleasing colors. In art, the rela- 
tion of means to end was seen in the practical questions of 
perspective, proportion, spaces, masses, balance, and effect of 
color combinations or contrasts. In music, melody and rhythm 
were beginning to be used as the means to get a desired result 
in composition. 

The French for this group was taught by conversations about 
topics of everyday interest, an occupation they were carrying 
on, or a picture they were sketching. Special attention was 
given more and more to forms of speech and to pronunciation. 
Individual needs in voice training were met in connection with 
reading aloud, and the children developed considerable in- 
terest in the correct use of their voices. This was in many cases 


extended to correct bodily posture and linked to special ap- 
paratus work with individuals in the gymnasium. 

This age often is characterized by intense activity. With 
proper laboratory facilities and proper organization of subject- 
matter into topics, a group of ten-year-olds, that are shielded 
from distraction and waste of energy, can make much progress 
in many directions. In the school, it seemed to those directing 
the work that the children of this age grew by leaps and bounds 
in their facility to handle all kinds of social situations, as well 
as those demanding intellectual ability. Individual differences, 
especially in interests, began to show clearly. The children were 
also more conscious of each other. Comparisons began to be 
made. While there were no overt symptoms of inferiority aside 
from those in one or two of the exceptionally slow pupils, the 
children, in planning the division of work, were discriminating 
in their choice of individuals who had ability to carry to com- 
pletion any part of an undertaking. 

At the end of this year the children showed the effects of 
their practice in experimental method. They had grown quite 
skilful in abstracting the meaning of one action with regard 
to the next. They had exercised their imaginations and 
stretched them to larger objectives which had such interest for 
them that they were content to wait and work for necessary 
skills, the lack of which presented a practical difficulty to at- 
tainment. They began to conceive of the end as something to 
be found out and had had some experience in controlling their 
acts and images so as to help in the inquiry and solution. 

In history there had been a change from the biographical 
method of approach to discussion of general social problems, 
the formulation of questions that arise and possible solu- 
tions. The children still needed a mass of detail in order to get 
an adequate background of living and social situations before 
they could appreciate the problems or foretell probable solu- 
tions. Points about which there was a difference of opinion, 
matters upon which experience and reflection could be brought 
to bear, were always coming up in their history, as in the dis- 
cussion of the common pot of the Virginia Colony. The fre- 


quent use of such discussions, however, to develop the matter of 
doubt and difference into a definite problem was necessary to 
make the child feel just what the difficulty was. Again and 
again at this point, it was necessary to throw him upon his own 
resources in looking up material and upon his own judgment 
in bringing it to bear on the problem or in getting its solu- 
tion. When the question in a child's mind was formulated by 
himself, was his own question, it became a doubt that needed 
his reflective attention; it had a halo of interest which en- 
listed his undivided attention. He needed no prod or spur, no 
memorizing of ready-made answers. He actively sought and 
chose relevant material with which to answer it and considered 
the bearings and relations of this material and the kind of 
solution it called for. The problem was his own, hence the 
training secured by working out its solution became his own. 
This was discipline in the school. It was self-discipline; it re- 
sulted in self-control and a habit of considering problems. 





i ROUP VIII was divided into two sections on the basis of 
previous school experience. Section a, the larger, contained the 
children who had been in this school but a year and a half, 
and section b those who had been longer in the school. 1 

Both divisions studied the European backgrounds of the 
nations that had established colonies in America. Understand- 
ing of these backgrounds would naturally help the children 
appreciate the motives which sent the early explorers on their 
migrations and lured permanent settlers to the new lands. 
What these nations of the old civilization took to their new 
colonies, what they brought back for use or trade, and how and 
where they established the trade routes: these were some of the 
points to be solved by the course. 


The differences in the previous experience of the two sec- 
tions made it necessary to use two quite different courses of 
study. Group VHI-a 2 had not had the study of the world dis- 
coverers. Their work, therefore, was analogous to that of Group 
V. They imagined themselves living in Europe in the middle 
of the thirteenth century. With a globe before them, they 
noted the parts of the world known at that time and then took 

1 Group teacher, Marian Schibsby, Latin and German; assisted by Mar- 
garet Hoblitt, history. 

2 In charge ot Margaret Hoblitt. 



up the adventures of Marco Polo in Asia to see how Europe 
became acquainted with the wealth of the Far East. They 
learned how Venice and Genoa developed and the effect of 
the introduction into Europe of the many products of India 
and China on commerce. When the Turkish pirates cut off the 
Mediterranean route to the East, these pioneer commercial na- 
tions were forced to look for a new way, which led to all the 
discoveries and explorations of the fifteenth and sixteenth cen- 

The method used was to study the lives of the great men of 
the period and thus gain an idea of the industrial and social 
problems of the country and its political status. Prince Henry 
of Portugal was first taken for study. The children then went 
with Diaz around Africa, with Vasco de Gama to India, with 
Columbus on his four trips to America, studied the settlements 
of the Spaniards in the West Indies and Central America, re- 
discovered the Pacific Ocean and the western coast of America, 
conquered Peru with Pizarro, Mexico with Cortes, and finished 
with the discovery of Florida and the lower Mississippi. 

The language, both English and foreign, literature, and the 
various other arts and constructive activities closely correlated 
with the history study. In science, too, the interest and em- 
phasis was on the discovery of the world as a whole through a 
study of physical geography and of the formation of the earth's 
crust. The science teacher thus built up the globe physically 
at the same time that the history teacher was giving its social 
and political development. 

The fall work in science began with a general survey of the 
earth, its shape, size, relation to and in the solar system, and 
the effects of its different motions. Day and night, summer and 
winter, the tides, and so on were considered. This introduced 
the subject of gravitation, and the class quickly got the mean- 
ing of weight. To show how weight varies with the mass of the 
attracting body, the weight of a man on several planets, the 
moon, and the sun was roughly estimated and compared with 
that on the earth. The effect of this increase or decrease on 
running, jumping, or climbing was a matter of much amusing 
discussion. The numerous questions asked and the various 


conjectures stated indicated that the children were not lack- 
ing in one kind of imagination. Various phenomena of gravita- 
tion were brought out by supposing that the force did not 
exist and imagining the difference this would make in every- 
day life. The effect of the Japan Current on the climate of the 
western part of North America was also studied. The aim was 
to help the child realize the significance of a great physical 
force. 3 


Group Vlll-b made a different approach both in history 
and science. After a quarter's intensive work in English litera- 
ture, a study of English village life was undertaken. This was 
made to provide a background for the work in literature and 
also for a better understanding of the social life which preceded 
and led up to the emigration of the first English settlers. As a 
study for children who had done the work in Group VII it 
proved almost ideal. In the first place it is real history. It has 
to do with the lives of the people what they did, how they 
lived, how they acted, and what forces influenced their actions. 
It is a stage of social life or culture which is typical of all 
developments. It was of special interest to these children be- 
cause it was English, and because in it could be seen the begin- 
nings of most of the present industries in America. It is espe- 
cially adapted to study at this age because it is simple, and 
because it lends itself readily to constructive work. It gives a 
chance to reason, to conceive of a village in its simplest and 
earliest stage, to see its growth and organization, and to watch 
its development into a feudal organization. 

The dividing of village lands into that which was arable 
and that for pasture and the old systems of measurement and 
notation were taken up. The children discussed the sort of 

s The children were eager to make thermometers, and as this fitted 
in well with the work, a little time was given to this construction. There 
were many accidents, of course, and many failures, but finally, nearly all 
succeeded in getting the bulbs filled with mercury, and some of the children 
started to mark the scale on the tubes. This threatened to take so much 
time, however, that the children were asked to finish the work out of 
school hours, which several did. 


land it was, the tools used, the seeds available and their sub- 
sequent treatment as articles of food. Occupations were also 
studied, that of the milkman, the shepherd, the swineherd, the 
plowman, and the ironsmith, and what each contributed to 
the village by reason of the value of product produced. The 
qualities of personality which continued work in one trade 
might develop in a group of people, the effect of this develop- 
ment on their conduct in social situations, and their social 
status as individuals in community life were brought out in 
group discussion. This emphasis on the occupational side of 
the study led logically to the conclusion that the classes of 
people in the village, the villeurs, the cotters, and the different 
kinds of workmen, were the products of their various occupa- 
tions. The children grew able to distinguish or picture individ- 
uals of one class from another. The lord of the manor would 
be picked out by his dress. They would then add the details 
of his life, his duties, the kind of house he lived in, and his 
social status in the village. This would be in distinction to the 
next lower class, the villeurs. Thus there grew up a clear pic- 
ture of how the hard and fast class lines were drawn that even 
now hold in the social life of England. Constructive work was 
correlative; primitive plows and hoes, or mills and water- 
wheels were made. 

The general survey of the village industrial life extended 
itself to a study of the political relationships of the social and 
civic life of the village and to the conditions of England in the 
tenth century. A rather intensive study of the feudal system 
centered around the story of William the Conqueror and his 
conquest of England. Richard and Philip were followed across 
Europe in their crusade to the Holy Land. Certain chapters 
of Ivanhoe revealed a picture of social conditions and the rela- 
tions of the Saxons and Normans. The story of Sir Lancelot 
was read and discussed and contributed something of the real 
spirit of the age and the ideals of the knights. 4 A general sur- 
vey of the geography of Europe, of the British Isles, and finally 

* The Boy's Froissart, Mort d* Arthur, and The Age of Chivalry by 
Bulfinch were used as sources of information. 


of the world followed. Outline maps were drawn. On these 
were traced the great land and water routes of trade, and the 
different nationalities who had made settlements in America 
were located with emphasis on those of the Dutch and the ex- 
tensive claims of France, England, and Spain in America. As 
the children seemed unable to express in written form what 
they talked about with such evident pleasure, time was given 
daily for each child to develop skill in formulating clearly and 
correctly and in written form their knowledge of the English 
village community. There were drill lessons in spelling, writ- 
ing, and those language forms which they were unable to use 
because they were unfamiliar. 

The life of the English people at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century was briefly reviewed to help the children 
discover for themselves the reasons for exploration and why 
the early colonists left the old and sought the new. Again these 
children were carried far afield and once more traveled the 
world around. They went to India with the English and estab- 
lished the East India Trading Company (contemporaneous 
with the settlement of Jamestown), compared the products of 
these East Indian colonies ("nearly everything that can be 
raised in any country grows in India") with those of America, 
and understood the deadly rivalry that grew up between the 
English and the Portuguese who in the days of Vasco da Gama 
(1497) k ac * established factories in this far-away land. They 
thrilled to the destruction of the Armada, rejoiced in the 
resultant freedom of the seas, marveled at the high-handed 
division of the world by the Pope, and realized how this af- 
fected the settlements of the Dutch and French in India. The 
work as a whole enabled the children to place the history of 
their own country in some adjustment to that of other coun- 
tries. It also supplied the romantic and adventurous interests 
of children of this age with the best cultural expression the 
races have to offer. 



In science, VIII-& studied elementary physics and physiology. 5 
After reviewing the principles of electricity covered in the 
fall, they went on to a study of simple machines. A seesaw was 
made in the shop, and each child drew the plan for and made 
a pair of scales. They began their study of physiology with a 
study of the leg and arm movements. The general subject of 
body-movement as involving a series of joints was discussed. 
They found the nature of the hip that of a ball and socket, the 
knee joint that of a hinge; while the ankle possessed a more 
pivotal motion, and the toes could be moved in all ways. They 
worked out the mechanism of the forearm, locating the biceps 
muscle by feeling, and the tendons that attach this muscle to 
the shoulder and below the elbow to the forearm. They tried 
to move a door on its hinges by a string attached in a way 
similar to the attachment of the biceps and found it very dif- 
ficult to do. They thought it queer the arm should be attached 
in a way so difficult to move. In the shop at this time they were 
making models of each class of lever. 

In working out the principle of the lever involved in the 
movements of the forearm, the children reviewed the metric 
system of weights and measures. In order to take their think- 
ing from the English system of linear measure to that of the 
metric, they were asked to indicate in the air their ideas of the 
lengths of an inch, three inches, four inches, one foot, and a 
yard. The children who had been in the school some time 
were very correct in their ideas of these distances. The others 
were quite inaccurate. Their remarks showed much interest 
in the metric system as a rational method in comparison with 
the arbitrary measure of the English system. The importance of 
this in being able to emphasize volume of cubic contents in 
terms of weight of the standard unit, water, seemed to impress 

At the end of a week devoted entirely to work on the metric 
system, they had formulated all the English measures and had 

5 Katherine Camp, assisted by C. E. Marks and continued by Harry O. Gil- 


contrasted them with the metric system. In doing this they 
worked out a statement of the meaning of mass and the way 
in which measure of weight differs from all other measures. 
In this discussion it was brought out that we do not know 
what the so-called force of gravitation is. They were struck 
with the convenience of having the measure of mass and of 
cubic measure so constituted that one can be readily converted 
into the other. Much of the time was spent in actually making 
the cubic measure in pasteboard and tin, for they seemed to 
have no clear idea of the comparative size of a cubic centimeter 
and a cubic meter. 

As the work went on, it was found that this group preferred 
manual manipulation to numerical calculation. Two of the 
children were to make a half-gram by taking a decimeter of 
silver wire, finding its weight, and then calculating how many 
centimeters they would need for a half-gram. For some reason, 
probably to make the multiplication easier, they found how 
much it would take for a whole gram. Then, instead of divid- 
ing that amount by two, they measured the whole amount and 
then tried to weigh backward to the half-gram on the scales 
by actually removing the wire piece by piece without measur- 
ing. As this indicated a real need to understand the use of the 
numerical symbols in this operation as well as a lack of skill 
in their use, much time was given to number work in con- 
nection with those units of the metric system which they had 
been making. As originally planned, they were to use the units 
of both the English and the French systems in a study of the 
arm, as an illustration of a machine, and in some other mech- 
anism, such as a clock or a steam engine. Most of the time, 
however, was spent on the different processes needed to work 
out the experiments. 

With the weights and measures they had made before them, 
the children next were asked what could be used as a unit of 
work. After about ten minutes discussion one child suggested 
that the kilogram would be the unit in the French system. 
Later on, the same child volunteered that if a pound were 
raised a foot in a certain time, that could be used in the Eng- 
lish measure. The other children had already given the horse- 


power unit without knowing how many pounds or what rate 
it represented. In all the examples they at first ignored the 
question of rate and simply used the total amount of work 
done. Their first problem was to show what would represent 
%50o kilogram of work. This was accomplished, by choosing 
M.500 a kilogram for a weight. They were then asked to do 
this problem in another way, and in most cases without sugges- 
tion, they divided the distance moved instead of the weight. 
They here had occasion to use the fractional parts of the foot 
and pound and to reduce them to their simple forms. Time was 
taken to develop familiarity and skill in such manipulation, 
and the group then passed on to the use of the pulley, the 
wheel, and the axle and formulated the laws involved. 

After reviewing the main points in the machines constructed, 
the question of the source of power for each was brought up. 
Muscular energy was referred to food, and food to the light 
from the sun. Then the power of the steam-engine was carried 
back to the same source. The heat obtained in burning coal 
brought up two questions. What happens to the coal in burn- 
ing, and what is meant by heat? The first was answered in part 
by one or two of the class and then postponed for further con- 
sideration. The second was touched upon and then eagerly 
discussed after an interval of four days. All the class gave in- 
stances of the effect of heat on various substances; three de- 
clared that heat was friction, several others that it was heated 
or hot air, but were unable to state what they meant by hot 
iron. One boy said that hot iron was full of hot air or hot gas 
or something, i. e., heat. The subject of weight was reviewed 
as a measure of the amount of matter in a definite amount of 
iron. Three of the class declared that hot iron did not weigh 
any more than cold; therefore, heat was not "something," i. e., 
matter, added on or taken away. One thought that as iron 
expanded in heating it should weigh less when hot, that is, be 
more buoyed up by the air replaced. Then followed a long dis- 
cussion of the ways matter of various kinds could be measured 
by taking a certain unit of each substance. Through the dif- 
ference between the solid, liquid, and gaseous forms of water, 
iron, and air, the conception of the molecular constitution of 


matter was developed. "Heat as a motion of the molecules of 
the heated body" was a definition contributed by one child, 
but was not comprehended. As soon as they understood the 
theory of the different states of matter in elements, the chil- 
dren asked questions about compounds. They then worked 
out with some illustrative experiments: (i) the change of state 
of an element such as mercury, lead, or tin; (2) the combina- 
tion of two gaseshydrogen and oxygen; (3) the measure of 
the unit of massspecific gravity. 

An opportunity was given in the shop-work to use the facts 
that had been learned. The class tried to construct a clock 
from a pendulum, bicycle sprockets, chains, and other neces- 
sary equipment. They were able to work out the theoretical 
part by themselves, but some of the mechanics proved too 
difficult. They then constructed a set of balances which were 
more sensitive than the first rude ones they had made. These 
were for the school's use in weighing small packages. 

The work in physiology was continued by a study of the 
circulatory and respiratory systems. The class dissected the 
lungs and heart of a sheep, and each child made a careful ex- 
amination of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive sys- 
tems of a frog. 6 The gills of the tadpole were compared with 
the lungs of a frog. This led to a brief study of the meta- 
morphosis of an insect, consisting of a summary of the various 
stages of development and the determination of what con- 
stitutes a complete as compared with an incomplete meta- 

The main trend of the work of VIII-& was to build up the 
physical and social backgrounds out of which the early col- 
onists of America had come, to get an idea of their occupations 
and how far they had progressed through the use they had 
made of the resources of their natural environment, of the 
social relationships that had resulted, and finally, of the 
motives that had led certain of them to exploration and a 
pioneer life in a new land. 

At the close of this year these children were ready to under- 

s One child was chosen to buy the heart and lungs at a butcher's, and 
each child provided his own frogs and tadpoles. 


stand next year's detailed study of the revolt of the American 
colonies against the restraining hand of old custom and ancient 
usage. They could sympathize with these early colonists who 
in freedom had molded their new environment to their own 
desires and had tasted the wine of purposeful and creative 
action. They could understand that this wine could not be 
bottled by old laws and selfish traditions. 


Details of living and the industries of both colony and 
mother-country filled in the background and contributed to 
the mental picture that was gradually build up by the children. 
The different methods of spinning and weaving fibres and 
their preparation were discussed in detail. The children wrote 
brief but complete histories of the development of the textile 
implements used in carding, spinning, and weaving up to 
the colonial period. They learned that the invention of ma- 
chines had brought many improved ways of living, had changed 
the organization pattern of many industries, and had left 
many industrial and social problems for later generations to 
solve. The invention of John Kay's fly shuttle had brought 
about a scarcity of yarn and made spinning a more lucrative 
occupation than weaving. An impetus was thus given to in- 
ventions in the spinning industry, and the social and economic 
conditions of the subsequent transition period were discussed. 
The children realized somewhat the position of the spinner 
and weaver, the beginnings of organization in several branches 
of the industry, the misunderstanding of the value of machines 
and the benefit of machine work to the community, the un- 
fortunate position of the inventor, and the riots which followed 
any invention replacing hand-work. They took up the prob- 
lems men struggled over two centuries ago when the supply 
and demand for yarn were so unequal that weavers travelled 
the country seeking yarn. They understood the mechanics of in- 
termittent and continuous spinning and were asked to invent a 
machine in which a number of spindles were rotated by the 
revolution of one wheel, that is, by power. This problem was 



given, not so much to stimulate the inventive power of the 
children, as to make them realize the problems faced during 
the transition period. A little research work was then done on 
present-day methods of spinning in different parts of the world. 
Each child investigated a country, and the findings were tabu- 
lated as follows: 





United States Patterson 

Kentucky Mountains 
Tennessee " 
Carolina " 


* Indians 

Canada, French Inhabit- 



They also found that in a city like Chicago all methods of 
spinning were still used due to the presence of newly arrived 
emigrants from older civilizations. Some of the group had 
traveled and from personal experience could describe primitive 
forms of spinning in Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, and 
California, as well as the more advanced forms of factory work 
in New England. Foreign helpers in some of the children's 
homes supplied much information. Others used the encyclo- 
paedia. This piece of work gave the children some idea of the 
overlapping of different periods of civilization. The class also 
constructed a Navajo loom for pattern weaving, making the 
loom frames, battens, and shuttles. 7 

The experiences of the previous year in dyeing, including 
indigo dyeing with copper in the vat, were reviewed quickly 
and developed in one or two shades of blue and in white. Lamp 
wicking was used. The colors were limited so the children 
might realize the beauty of good spacing with two tones. Most 
of the children made looms at home. Some made small looms 
and wove with fine mercerized cotton dyed with aniline colors. 
The children gave most of their attention to the design of 
their weaving, comparing and vying with each other. In nearly 

7 An interesting connection was the cooperative attempt to work out the 
beginnings of a labor museum by the teachers in the school and the resi- 
dents and foreign neighbors of Hull House. 


every case, the design was modified after it was first made on 
account of the weaving, the criticisms of other children or be- 
cause of a development in their own critical faculty. 

They next constructed a roller beam loom in which the 
method of warping is intermediate between the Navajo and 
the colonial method. This enabled them to trace the develop- 
ment of warping as definitely as they had that of carding, spin- 
ning, and weaving. Six children in the group purchased 
spinning-wheels and spun Sax thread to use on the roller beam 
loom. Those who did not spin used flax hand-spun by an Irish 
woman. An accurate heddle was made in the shop from a care- 
ful drawing, also made by the children. Small table mats or 
doilies were woven on the loom a type used in colonial times 
for weaving such articles as tape and braid, The study of the 
textile industry was reviewed and summarized by papers on 
the history of carding, spinning, weaving, and warping, on the 
original invention of the spinning machine, by a map showing 
the present methods of spinning in different countries, by de- 
signs for weaving on a Navajo loom and the tape loom, and 
by the drawing of a heddle. These were bound together by 
each child in a portfolio, decorated by an original and ap- 
propriate design. 


The experimental work in cooking, which was a study of 
meats for both sections of the group, took up the effects of 
moist and dry heat on meat fibre. An analysis of meat and a 
comparison of different cuts in order to discover the reason 
for the superiority of some over others were also made. This, 
with a review of their work on albuminous foods, and an analy- 
sis of eggs and milk completed the elementary course in cook- 

In this year the character of the work in physical education 
changed. More time was spent in apparatus work than in the 
younger groups. Emphasis was put upon the group's learning 
to work and play together. Two periods each week the chil- 
dren played games and gradually came to realize that it was not 
what each individual did, but what they did as a whole that 


made for a victory. The quality of this work in the gymnasium 
was excellent; good team-work and considerable individual 
proficiency were developed in basket ball. 

Much of the number work was connected with problems aris- 
ing in various studies. One of these developed in connection 
with the work in physiology. It was desirable to know how 
much ventilation was necessary in two (a large and a small) 
rooms of the school. The children first measured the rooms 
and estimated their cubical contents. As one of the rooms was 
irregular, they had to deduct the cubical contents of a jog 
which complicated the work somewhat. They found, from a 
physiology textbook, that the amount of carbon dioxide per- 
missible in a room was two parts in ten thousand. In order 
to use this in decimal form they were shown how to reduce 
fractional parts to decimals of per cent and worked enough 
problems to gain facility. The proportion of carbon dioxide 
given out per hour by an adult and by a child and the time 
it would take to reach this limit for the rooms under considera- 
tion were then found. Next they estimated how much air must 
be admitted to give perfect ventilation and found the average 
velocity of wind in Chicago from a weather-map. These figures 
were reduced to meters, and taking the area of the windows 
in meters, they estimated the amount of air that would pass 
through the rooms in a given time. 8 

The plastering had fallen from the ceiling in one of the 
school-rooms, and the group wanted to find the cost of replas- 
tering. With some help they were able to make allowance for 
the closet. They found out the price of plaster and estimated 
the entire cost. They also solved other problems which came 
from their work in other subjects. As a result of their study of 
the history of Chicago the previous year, they found the 
amount of taxes paid by certain individuals and estimated 
their property holdings. The school tax bill was worked out, 
and taxes in general studied. Some time was also spent in ex- 
plaining and balancing the budget of the school. The children 
then added up the tuitions to see if they corresponded with the 

s University of Chicago Record, September, 1899. Teacher, Georgia 
F. Bacon. 


account in the budget. They figured out how much material 
the children would use in a month, in a week, and in a day. 
A great deal of work of a formal character was also carried on. 
The children developed their own multiplication table and 
drilled on it, and on multiplication and division of two or 
more figures. They studied fractions, square root, ratio, and 
proportion. In the spring, for the first time, a textbook in 
arithmetic was used, and each child systematically undertook a 
review of the various number processes that had been covered. 

The language expression of this group was varied. The 
study of Latin and English grammar, parts of speech, and 
sentence analysis was taught as a unit by one teacher. 9 The 
method of teaching in Latin, like that in French and German, 
was by conversation and drama. Words were always associated 
with the appropriate object, action, or quality. By writing from 
dictation and answering questions on a Latin story, the chil- 
dren grew familiar with the story in Latin before they at- 
tempted to translate it into English. In some cases they were 
able to tell the story in Latin without having made any con- 
scious effort to commit it to memory. 

In the study of English literature made by one of the sections 
of Group VIII during the fall months, group and individual 
instruction in vocal expression was given by a teacher es- 
pecially trained in this work. 10 The children were asked what 
they would like to learn to read well. One child brought Miles 
Stan dish. This was read in dramatic form so that they learned 
to differentiate characters and to read description. In the be- 
ginning they were very faulty in breathing. Some concentrated 
well, others did not. Some lacked an average use of English, 
but all showed a good spirit and worked hard. A few had a 
very limited vocabulary, which the teacher tried to enlarge. 
Later the children worked on poems selected for them indi- 
vidually. These children, more than any other group, showed 
interest only when they were reciting. Each was anxious to 
recite his own poem, but the rest were not interested in hear- 
ing him and did not listen. The children were also given 

Marion Schibsby. 
10 Minerva Butlin. 


practice in reading their reports to the weekly assembly, in- 
struction which was welcome as each child wished to deliver his 
own report or that of his group with credit. 

After hearing a series of readings from Howard Pyle's The 
Merry Adventures of Robin Hood u in their study of literature, 
the children discussed a figure and an image. They also talked 
about three pictures of deer, Landseer's "The King of the 
Forest" and "The Monarch of the Glen" and Bonheur's "On 
the Alert," and found, or were guided to find, the words for 
the deer, the epithets to describe them, and terms appropriate 
to the chase. They memorized Shakespeare's "Under the Green- 
wood Tree." This work was designed to give the children 
power to read fluently and with expression. They had an 
excellent background for this work. Texts with plentiful notes 
gave them opportunity to look up all the references and to 
prepare the lesson before they came to class. Each child first 
read his passage slowly, then he reread it to gain fluency and 
natural expression. The class drew a ground plan of a feudal 
castle on the board, read a description of a castle from Viollet 
de Due's Habitations of Man in All Ages, and did some written 
work in connection with the reading. 

Music and the graphic arts all had a place in the weekly 
program, and were knit into the daily activities, illustrating 
and refining them. They were always regarded as of peculiar 
value, for by means of them the child's appreciation of his 
experience found its best and highest expression, 


Toward the close of the year the children in this group had 
gained in power to hold problems before their minds. They 
could keep themselves from action for longer and longer 
periods in order to consider that action in the light of possible 
consequences. Ends were more often not just the overcoming 
of practical difficulties, but something to be found out in order 
to reach further ends, and in reaching them the child himself 
learned to control and direct his own acts and images. 

11 Mrs. L. M. MacClintock. 




experience of a twelve-year-old child in this school had 
been a continuously developing one. His activities had con- 
stantly extended in scope and significance. They had involved 
much positive and detailed subject-matter that had enlarged 
and deepened the world of his imaginative thought. The ideal, 
not always fully realized, was that the subject-matter in science, 
geography, history, or any subject should relate to the child's 
activities and should suit each phase of his experience. For 
him, therefore, geological, geographical, or other scientific facts 
were part and parcel of the historical story and, introduced in 
a synthetic and living way, thus became an integral part of 
the stream of his experience. The mere beginnings of large and 
fundamental concepts of the first early years were enlarged 
through the later years, either by themselves or in relation to 
still larger and more inclusive concepts. Widening areas of 
activity frequently supplied occasions for introducing supple- 
mentary lines of study which still further enlarged horizons 
and increased the dynamic power of individual effort. In the 
process real problems and difficulties often arose in the mid- 
stream of action, obstructions which the child himself must 
remove or circumvent. He saw that skill was essential to this, 
and that repetition was necessary to skill and the attainment of 
a finished result. His need for skill thus became sufficient to 
engage him in its acquisition; he had an impelling motive 
from within for analysis and mastering rules. This was found 
to be possible only as formal work was kept in connection with 



active construction and expression which presented difficulties 
and suggested the need of an effective method to cope with 


The conscious recognition of the relation of means to ends 
steadily increased with the child's growth. Indeed it came to 
be the specific unifying principle of the second stage of growth 
the measure of the child's development in thought and ac- 
tion. Activities were planned to center around projects of 
longer and longer duration and thus took on the nature of 
occupations. Shop work with wood and tools, cooking, sewing, 
and work in textiles reproduced or ran parallel to some in- 
dustry carried on in social life, whether in the past or present: 
In such work the child utilized the intellectual and the practi- 
cal phases of his experience; for, in addition to skill and 
technique, it involved constant observation of materials and 
continual planning and reflection to carry out effectively the 
practical or executive side. Mind, hand, and eye were needed. 
There was, therefore, a continual interplay between ideas and 
their embodiment in action. The great stress laid upon per- 
sonal experimenting, planning, and reinventing required that 
the child be mentally alert and quick if he were to do the out- 
ward work properly. 

Aside from its peculiar educational value to a child at this 
stage of mental growth, the evolutionary study of the different 
textile occupations, paralleling as it did the social history of 
Colonial times, had brought him a deeper interest in and a 
keener appreciation of the social life of the period, its problems, 
and its contributions to the later life of the nation. The indus- 
trial and economic progress of a colony of people was seen in 
its proper relation to intellectual growth. The reciprocal value 
o each for the other lay in the dependence of the one upon 
the other, and the whole of experience was deepened and en- 
riched by the fact that they geared into and reenforced one an- 

By reason of the nature of their school experience, therefore, 


in the years from four to twelve these children had built into 
the fabric of their consciousness an intimate knowledge of 
materials of all kinds. They had traced many of these materials 
to their sources or to their simplest forms. They had the easy 
attitude toward them which follows in the wake of familiarity 
and intimate knowledge. Each child was accustomed to take 
raw materials and manipulate them to the form of his idea. 
Lead in native ore, through controlled use of heat and the 
child's own labor, became weights for his balance. He had 
washed and scoured the unclean oily wool of the sheep with 
soap of his own making, had carded it with a hackle of his own 
invention, spun it on a spindle and wheel of his own construc- 
tion. He had dyed the yarn with self-mixed color and on his 
own loom had woven it into the self-designed pattern of his 
rug. The genuineness and importance of his work had sunk 
deep into his consciousness, for he knew it had paralleled that 
of his own forbears. His way had followed their way; their 
problems from start to finish had become his, for he knew 
something of the situation and circumstances out of which 
they arose, and of the methods and means used in their solu- 
tion. Many facts were thus easily woven, by the child's own 
effort, into the web of his experience. A method of thinking 
was gradually adopted which from daily use became a method 
of action, and it was the constant hope and ideal that new 
significances of action, new appreciations of beauty, of good- 
ness, and of worth in every field of endeavor might develop 
out of these habitual ways. For these children, it can at least 
be said that out of the years' activities was born the conscious- 
ness that there was need to do what they did more quickly, 
more effectively, and more perfectly, and with due considera- 
tion for others. 

With the close of the tenth year the second stage of growth 
draws to a close. Just as in the first stage, the change is gradual. 
The eleventh year, while it has been grouped with those of the 
second period, was markedly transitional in character, and at 
twelve years, the average child in this school was fully awake 
to values of larger purposes and further objectives than those 


which had heretofore absorbed him. His observations of nature 
had led him to carefully guided but self-directed experimenta- 
tion. He had thus gained some command of the secrets of 
nature and a measure of control of a few of her forces. In the 
process he had exercised, to a greater or lesser degree, his power 
to think logically, to initiate, and to execute. Out of such an 
accumulated background of experience was born an under- 
standing of the wonderful transformation in methods of pro- 
duction and distribution that has taken place in the history of 
the race. His eyes had been opened to how it had all come 
about, because man had tried and kept on trying; it was the 
fruit of experimental science, of a scientific method of putting 
knowledge to use in all areas of living. While still a child in a 
highly plastic stage of growth, he had imaginatively compan- 
ioned man in the simplified physical and social situations of 
ancient living and had experimented and invented to meet 
exigent circumstance with immediate and adequate action. 
He has seen how, with the lamp of his own mind, man had 
operated in and worked on his situation with the result that 
there was a better understanding both of the attendant difficul- 
ties and of the way out In the story of changing civilization, it 
had been brought continually to his attention that it was al- 
ways science and scientific method that had broken down 
physical barriers, conquered disease, and eliminated evils once 
thought insurmountable. He came to have a sensitivity to the 
difference in the quality of living in the "then'* and the "now," 
and of their contrasting values. Accompanying this was an in- 
creased appreciation that scientific method was more than a 
tool for the extension of his arms and legs, that in it lay the 
possibility of using past experience as the servant, not as the 
master of his mind. In varying degree it was true of these chil- 
dren at this age that constant use of the test-and-see-for-yourself 
method had developed in them a belief, greater than in most 
children, in their own ability to direct their actions. As this be- 
lief deepened and became apparent, each child felt himself 
freed more and more from the necessity of guidance from 
without and tasted of the true freedom resulting from inner 


direction and control. At the age of twelve such a child was 
often able to crank his own engine and keep going under his 
own power and guidance for longer and longer periods. 

This growing self-directive power was accompanied by better 
judgment in selecting and abstracting from the subject-matter 
of his former experience that which he thought would be help- 
ful in the new. Abstraction thus came to be the artery for his 
thinking, for by it he intentionally rendered one experience 
available for guidance in another. Soon his conscious use of 
abstraction to clarify and direct new situations, brought him 
to discover how to generalize, to make his own rules, to 
formulate a general principle, and to draw his own conclusions. 
A term's work always concluded with a review and a summary. 
The children did this with pleasure. In a long course of cook- 
ing, cereals, meats, and many different kinds of foods had been 
analyzed and classified according to their predominating con- 
stituents as carbohydrates, proteins, and those valuable for 
their mineral salts. While finishing up their cook books, the 
children were astonished and delighted to find how few general 
principles covered the cooking of so many different kinds of 
food. This summary or review was always done both by indi- 
viduals and by all the children working together. In addition 
to the stabilizing effect of a knowledge of inner power and con- 
trol, there was a sense of security born from years of working 
in and with a group, a trust in the efficacy of cooperative ac- 
tion for the reconstruction of experience. 1 This conscious use 
of abstraction and of generalization, added to an increasing 
sense of reliance on his own ability to find a way out of any 
situation by trying what had helped before, brought a child, 
in this school, to a forking of the ways at the age of twelve 
when the individual interest and personal preference of one 
child may see a beckoning down this path and another may 
see it along a far different trail. From now on, for each one 

i The present sense of insecurity is exaggerated in many persons by the 
lack of experience in the use of a tested method of reconstructing individual 
situations and social conditions through cooperative action. With no habits 
of acting with others many of the younger generation professing high 
social ideals fail to see that they themselves are not social in their personal 


and for the school and teachers, the way of the group became 
more difficult. Mere play of activity satisfied less and less. It 
must accomplish more and must move on to an increasingly 
definite, a more perfect and abiding outcome. 2 

The historical subject-matter, chosen with the growing child 
in mind, had paralleled, as closely as possible, the phases of 
his rapidly differentiating experience with those periods which 
were characteristic and typical of similarly growing phases 
of social life. By study of the work of the American colonies 
by following the road of their industrial and economic his- 
toryhe had came to a real understanding of two of the most 
fundamental aspects of social life. First, he saw how present 
social life has been made more prosperous and secure. The 
successive inventions and discoveries by which theoretical 
science has been applied to the control of nature are thus seen 
as the causes of social progress. Second, through participating 
in similar work, he himself had come to grips with the things 
that fundamentally concern all men, namely, the occupations 
and values connected with getting a living. His conception of 
history thus deeply embedded in actual experience and sup- 
plemented with timely second-hand information, was colored 
with a human, a democratic, and hence a liberalizing point 
of view. It may be truthfully said that these children at twelve 
years had a conception of history that was dynamicit was 
moving and progressive social life. 

In their school life, the children of this group were active in 
school assemblies, newspaper work, and all club activities. 
They were so individual in what they undertook that at times 
it seemed more difficult than ever before to carry on new group 
plans. Four years of experimentation led to the development 
of a curriculum for children of this age in which geography, 
while connected with the history of the people studied, was 

2 The physical and psychological tests on the children were conducted by 
F. M. Smediey, A. D. Wood and Dr. D. P. MacMillan. Mr. Smedley and 
Dr. MacMillan later shared in the testing of over six thousand public 
school children. The results of this investigation were published in an 
article by Dr. U. S. Christopher. "The Relation of Unbalanced Physical 
Development to Pubertal Morbidity as Shown by Physical Measurement," 
The Journal of the American Medical Association, September, 1901. 


concerned with larger wholes. It was the study of the growth 
of the whole continent of North America rather than just that 
of the eastern coast of the United States the scene of their 
previous historical study. 


With the experience gained from a knowledge of the Eu- 
ropean backgrounds of the American Colonists, the children 
resumed their study of the developing life of their own country 
during the Revolution and the later period of westward ex- 
pansion. In the light of the previous year's experience the 
historical facts, the growing industries, and the resulting social 
and political reorganizations became meaningful. With their 
new point of view and enlarged appreciation of the colonists 
as people English, French, Spanish, Dutch they had a more 
intelligent understanding of the French and Indian War, the 
Revolution, and the problems that arose in the subsequent 
period of westward expansion and gradual acquisition of ter- 
ritory. This study was carried through more or less success- 
fully for the majority of the group. 3 The same classroom 
method was used as in the earlier study of the colonial period. 
The rest of the work of the group, science, manual skills, com- 
munication, and the arts of expression, correlated itself to the 
historical program through appropriate activities and related 


The science for this group grew out of the material they 
were using in the laboratory and included a detailed study of 
sedimentary rocks. The illustrative experimental work in sci- 
ence was planned to illustrate some of the more general proper- 
ties of matter and to bring out the fundamental principle that 
change of form involves expenditure of energy. Work began, 
as always, with discussion; here it was concerned with the things 
that are necessary to life. The children suggested food, clothing, 

Taught by Margaret Hoblitt. 


shelter, water, air. They decided that some of these were more 
essential than others, but of all, air was the most essential to 
life. In answer to "What is air?" they responded with several 
of their own ideas. After a preliminary attempt at an explan- 
ation of the difference between a combination and a mixture, 
a series of experiments were undertaken to demonstrate the 
make-up of air. Oxygen was separated from the nitrogen in 
the air by its combustion with phosphorus, and the action of 
phosphorus in combustion was contrasted with that of oxygen 
and hydrogen. These experiments involved some discussion of 
the molecular constitution of matter and were constantly com- 
pared to similar reactions taking place in nature. The abstrac- 
tions involved in the experiments illustrating the chemical 
action of gases upon solids seemed too remote for most of the 
class, although a typical example of a gas becoming part of a 
solid was demonstrated by putting away weighed portions of 
iron filings to rust for a number of days. The children had been 
told many times that rust is an oxide formed by the contact 
of iron with the oxygen of the air, but all but one or two failed 
to appreciate what this meant. They thought that a union of 
a gas with a solid would make the solid lighter, that either the 
filings would not gain in weight at all or would lose. After a 
few days the filings were again weighed and the percentage of 
gain found in each case. This type of experiment was then 
dropped, and a series with liquids and gases was begun. 

As an introduction, an hour was spent in summing up all 
the elements of the earth with which they were familiar and 
in grouping them according to their state solid, liquid or 
gaseous. The state was seen to be dependent upon the amount 
of heat and pressure. This was made much easier by the group's 
keen interest in liquid air; two of the class had heard Triplets 
lecture on the subject. The aggregation theory of the forma- 
tion of the earth was explained to them. They themselves 
contributed the idea of the original gaseous form of the earth, 
but did not go on and suggest the cooling of the earth to a 
temperature where life was possible, so a new start was made 
from another approach. They were asked what temperature 
they could endure and live. Discussion of this point in relation 


to plants and animals brought them to the conclusion that 
there are certain limits of temperature which limit the pres- 
ence of life. Two sets of experiments illustrated the change 
from a liquid to a solid or to a gaseous state. An experiment 
with mercury showed the change from liquid to a gaseous and 
back again to the liquid state. The melting and cooling of 
type metal illustrated the change of state during solidification 
and the processes of crystallization, expansion, and contraction. 
The necessary proportion of the metals used in this experiment 
were looked up by each child and were reported to and checked 
by the group. Finally, each child was asked to cany through, 
without asking any questions, the whole series of experiments 
and to report on the amount done at the end of three periods. 

During the previous year these children as Group VIII, had 
made a study of the electric bell and motor. An account of 
Faraday's experiment with an iron core and a coil was the 
starting point for their construction of a dynamo-motor. As a 
preparation for a visit to Armour Institute they had reviewed 
the things they would want to see. These were, in their pre- 
ferred order: a motor, a dynamo, a galvanometer (which they 
called a tester), a storage battery, and an apparatus for telegra- 

In Group IX, these same children had another opportunity 
to visit Armour Institute and revive their interest in electrical 
machines. They saw three kinds of galvanometers and, while 
looking for them, asked for the first time for the name of the 
unit of electric measurement. They already knew that the 
method of measurement was the work done. A powerful elec- 
tric magnet gave them their first conception of magnetism as 
a real force. They could feel the force on a steel screw-driver as 
it required all their strength to prevent its moving between 
the two poles of the magnet. One of the children asked in great 
excitement, "What is happening between those two pieces of 
metal?" They also saw alternating and direct dynamos and 
electric motors with two kinds of armatures and understood 
that dynamos can be used to generate current and also as a 
motor. One of the children went home and made his motor 
into a dynamo with a small steam-engine as the source of 


power. The girls showed little interest as compared to the 
boys, but all came home with the determination to make a 
galvanometer in the shop and, if they could find the parts, a 
motor and a dynamo. At Armour they were taken to a shop 
where a motor was used to run a planer and a jig-saw. This 
aroused great interest and the repeated comment, "How much 
we could do if we only had one!" They also saw a portable 
testing ammeter and voltmeter and asked what each measured 
and were told how the two instruments could be made to 
read in different parts of the scale by the amount of wire 
wound from one cylinder onto another, thus making, as it 
were, the resistance visible. 

The opinion of the director of the course * was that a visit 
of this sort should be made at the beginning of the course and 
again at its close. They then could have carried the conception 
of the force they had seen acting on a large scale over into 
their own experiments of force on a small scale. The concep- 
tion would have been clearer than the reverse order of occur- 
rences. The second visit could then have been made to review 
and to give them some conception of methods of measure- 
ment and the value of the units used. 

After this interlude on electrical machines, the group re- 
turned to their study of the change of matter and started a 
series of experiments to illustrate these changes as they occur 
in the making of various alloys, such as type-metal, solder, 
pewter, and fusible metals. Each child worked alone, wrote his 
own record, a process which often involved study in composi- 
tion to achieve clarity of statement. At the close of the work 
each child with guidance summed up and formulated the 
general principles he had learned. 

The spring term work began with a review of what the class 
knew about the formation of the earth. The children were 
intrigued with Mr. See's theory of the cold nebular mass as 
opposed to the ordinary La Place nebular theory. Their inter- 
est in change of state, from gas to liquid or solid by heating 
and cooling at critical points, was keen and carried over well 

* Katharine Camp. 


to the story of such changes occurring in the earth's formation. 
When the children had grasped the idea of the earth as a ball 
covered with a rocky crust and surrounded with an atmo- 
sphere, they went on to changes which have taken place on the 
earth and can now be seen. After some questioning and dis- 
cussion they stated that there were three kinds of rocks: (i) 
lava, granite schists; (2) rocks like marble, which have been 
changed; (3) water-formed rocks. In discussing metamorphic 
rocks, they said the gas around the earth would change rocks 
directly forming crystals without the action of water. They 
used the word oxides and described the iron sulphides al- 
though they did not know their name, placing these in the 
second class of rocks which had been changed by heat and pres- 
sure. The teacher gave terms igneous, metamorphic, and sedi- 
mentary during the discussion. The children recalled from 
previous work that slate was formed like clay and had been 
changed by pressure, that granite was the oldest unchanged 
rock they knew, and that sandstone and limestone had been 
laid down or made in the water, and gave other evidences of 
remembering this work well. Part of the class then made ex- 
periments illustrating the formation of sedimentary rocks and 
the action of carbon and sulphur dioxide upon these rocks. 
Some time was spent formulating the proper order of impor- 
tant points in the records of the work. The children wrote 
their summaries more successfully this year than they had 
those of the same work the previous year. Examples follow: 


A long time ago when the earth was new, when it was lava, there 
was no water on the earth, and there was steam all round the earth 
up in the air, as there were many gases in the air. One of them was 
carbon dioxide. The steam became clouds, because the earth began 
to cool off, and after a while it began to rain, and the water came 
down and dissolved the carbon dioxide from the air. When the earth 
was cooling off, calcium was in the rock lava. The water ran down 
in the rocks, and the carbon dioxide takes the calcium out of the 
rocks and makes calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate dissolved 
in the water. The little animals eat the calcium carbonate and make 
their shells corals, snails, oysters, etc. These shells are pressed down 
by other shells, and at last they are all made into limestone. 


Calcium carbonate comes from all little animals that have shells. 

Coral, having such a great many little animals, so that when they 

die there is a great deal of calcium carbonate left by the skeletons. 

The other way of making calcium carbonate is in caves. The water 

leaks through and leaves calcium carbonate in the form of crystals. 

Marble is calcium carbonate under great pressure and some heat* 

The next experiment is to find out if there is calcium in lava. 5 

I took some lava and put on some hydrochloric acid (strong). 

There was no action that could be seen except when I heated it, and 

then a vapor came ofL G 

When I evaporated it, it left a little bit of dark stuff in the bottom 
so that shows that there was some action and the acid did take some- 
thing out of the lava. Then I let it stand for a few days. After I let 
it stand I rubbed a small piece of filter paper on the bottom of the 
test-tube. The dark stuff had absorbed some moisture. Then I heated 
it until it turned to a dark red color which I don't know anything 
about but the dark stuff absorbing moisture shows some of the dark 
stuff on the bottom of the test tube was like calcium chloride. 7 

The science work for the rest of the year consisted in follow- 
ing out the geological history of the United States which was 
now clearer since this experimental work had illustrated some 
important natural facts and processes. The children were given 
their choice of illustrating Shaler's Story of Our Continent 
with maps and diagrams or of working out and illustrating one 
topic of special interest to each pupil. These, one of the chil- 
dren immediately suggested, could all be put together and 
made into a book. Two of the topics chosen were the history of 
the Mississippi Valley and of the lake region as showing the 
location of the great limestone, clay, and metal deposits in the 
United States. 

After a period of arithmetic tests, plans for detailed indi- 
vidual maps showing the location of a mineral or other natural 
product were begun. The fact that these maps combined would 
give a complete map of the country aroused much interest. 

s Lava meant igneous rock before it had weathered. The lava used 
came from the Hawaiian volcanoes. 

s One or two of the class heated hydrochloric acid without any lava, and 
found that the same vapor came off as when the lava was in it. 

7 The children had made calcium chloride and seen it dissolve in water 
absorbed from the air. University Record, Vol. Ill, No. 49, Teacher, Kath- 
erine Camp. 


The children decided that all would have to use the same 
scale and system of marks. What these should be was decided 
by a vote on each suggestion. They voted to show the outline 
of the country by a black line, to outline the states by a dotted 
line, to show large cities by circles with radiating points, sea- 
ports or towns important because of their nearness to mines or 
quarries by small squares, canals by a double line with cross 
marks, railroads by a single line with cross marks, lakes by 
blue washing, rivers by a double line, mountains by the usual 
conventional curved lines, and to mark the area of occurrence 
and production of the natural products by distinctive colors. 
Methods of scaling and how to make a flat map of a curved 
surface were reviewed, and each child traced his outline map 
from one in an atlas. The finished maps were transferred to 
cloth paper. A large map of the United States was also made 
in the school yard. 

In the meantime the children read at home Shaler's Story of 
our Continent. They were especially interested in its author's 
summary of the relation between living things and physical 
environment. Each child then wrote a report of his work 
after some class instruction in how to make each paragraph 
carry the story along a few additional steps. At first many of 
the class tried to write their reports by copying from references. 
One report written in this way was read aloud and discussed 
from the point of view of the audience, Group VI, for whom it 
was intended. This discussion gave the class a new understand- 
ing of what the reports might be, and they set about the work 
of rewriting, with renewed interest. Two reports were rewrit- 
ten three times. During the writing, reports were frequently 
read aloud and criticized as to subject-matter and treatment. 
At the closing session of the course the general physiographical 
characteristics of North America were reviewed, and new de- 
tails were given about parts of the country where members of 
the class were to spend the summer. 

The science work of the group, as that of all the school in 
the spring, turned to the outdoors for illustrative materials and 
excursions and as a setting for experimental work with living 
things. A series of experiments on plant life was used. One 


hour a week was devoted to this laboratory work. The length 
of time between meetings was too long. A constant review was 
necessary, and the experiments failed for lack of attention. 

During the year's course in what was fundamentally geologi- 
cal science, there were at least two astronomical holidays. The 
class spent the one occurring at the time of the spring solstice 
in watching the tellurian. They got a vivid idea of what the 
equinox meant and of the relation of the sun and earth during 
the longest and shortest days of the year. The children were 
reminded that in the northern winter the earth travels that 
portion of its elliptical path which is nearest to the sun, and 
that for this reason the winter of the northern hemisphere is 
slightly warmer and about six days shorter than that in the 
southern hemisphere, while the northern summer is slightly 
cooler and about six days longer than the southern summer. 
It was explained that this is due to the fact that when the earth's 
distance to the sun is shortest (the northern winter or the 
southern summer), the earth must move more swiftly along its 
elliptical orbit in order that the space swept over may be the 
same as that covered in any other interval of time. To illustrate 
this the children drew ellipses with exaggerated eccentricities 
by inserting the point of a pencil in a loop of string of which 
the ends, fastened by pins, were the foci of the ellipse. They 
were reminded of the fact (long familiar) that the water vapor 
in the atmosphere retards the earth's loss of heat derived from 
the sun. This is illustrated by frost on clear nights and a great 
difference in temperature between day and night in high alti- 
tudes. The intense cold of high altitudes was explained as due 
to the fact that the rarefied atmosphere of the mountaintops 
holds in its thin blanket less water vapor and thus allows the 
earth's heat to escape more quickly. 8 

The year's program was carried through successfully with 
the majority of the children in Group IX. There were in this 
group, however, and in several of the older groups a number of 
boys who were irked by the historical approach and who 
seemed to require a shift in method. Their interests were not 

The second event was an eclipse, which was explained to the class and 
discussed both before and after its occurrence. 


in line with those of the rest of the children; their attention 
was divided or entirely lacking; and their efforts, in accord 
with their interest, either retarded or interfered with those of 
the others. These boys were finally taken out of the class and 
allowed to follow their own diverse and individual lines until 
the general trend of their interests could be determined. This 
interest proved to be along scientific lines closely related to 
things the boys were making in the shop such as pile-drivers, 
stands for their microscopes, heat engines, or the simple astro- 
nomical or surveying and navigating instruments of the early 
discoverers and inventors. As some of the boys had had the 
science of Group VHI-a in the previous year and the others the 
science of Group VIII-&., it was necessary to begin their work 
together with a simple, general topic and gradually lead back 
to their individual choices. 


This topic was the measurement of time, day and night, 
and the passage of the seasons. Starting with an ordinary clock 
as the present instrument for the measurement of time, the 
relation of the earth to the sun in its daily and yearly revolu- 
tions was studied. The place of the earth in the solar system 
and the relative distances of the planets were used as the basis 
for number work. The earth's change in position with refer- 
ence to the sun's rays as the causal factor in the varying length 
of day and night and the changes of the seasons were worked 
out in two ways: first by geometry, second by observation. For 
the second, the boys made a series of daily observations of the 
time of sunrise and sunset, checking by the times given in an 
almanac. The first involved a good deal of geometrical con- 
struction. The idea of the plane of the ecliptic and the constant 
angle which the earth's axis maintains with reference to that 
plane was developed. It took some time for the boys to realize 
that the plane of the observer's horizon is perpendicular to a 
line drawn to the center of the earth from the observer's stand- 
point. The boundary line of that plane was then taken as the 
starting plane for their measurement of the sun's altitude. 


When they had accomplished this and its diagrammatic repre- 
sentation with much suggestion and direction, they were able 
to construct two instruments of different types for the measure- 
ment of the sun's altitude. One, like the old astrolade, was a 
circle with an index hand at the center. The other, and usual 
method, was by the measurement of the shadow of a per- 
pendicular stick at noon. The making and the interpretation of 
the readings of these instruments involved much geometrical 
construction and the development of new measurement con- 
cepts. For two months the time was equally divided between 
practical construction and the making of geometrical diagrams 
with the mathematics in their drawings. In measuring the sun's 
altitude it was necessary to construct a perpendicular to a 
line representing the observer's plane. Discussion brought out 
that two lines are necessary to locate any plane. However, when 
representing this on paper, the boys discovered that one line 
would serve if the construction were kept in the plane of the 
paper. They worked out independently at least four ways of 
constructing a perpendicular. Incidental to this construction, 
two or three discovered and used the construction of an angle 
of sixty degrees, the bisection of an angle, the construction of 
an angle equal to a given angle. They also developed the idea 
that angles formed by any line cutting two parallel lines, i. e., 
similarly placed angles, are equal. No demonstration was at- 
tempted. All these constructions were used in a final diagram 
which represented the observer's plane, the plane of the equa- 
tor, and a line representing the direction of the sun's rays at 
the equinox. The final step in this construction was to get the 
angle of a plane cutting a cylinder so that the shadow of the 
axis of the cylinder might describe equal spaces over this plane 
during the twenty-four hours of the sun's revolution. This 
cylinder would then be cut by a plane whose angle would 
represent any latitude, and this section would give the surface 
of a sun-dial for that latitude. In order to understand the 
problem and construct the cylinder, however, many geometri- 
cal constructions were necessary. In the process the boys worked 
out the following original propositions: the bisection of a line, 
three methods of erecting a perpendicular, the construction 


of parallel lines and angles, the bisection of an angle, the 
method of finding the center of a circle, the construction of the 
hexagon, and the use of terms in defining line, point, circle, 
angle^ zenith,, latitude and declination. The interest and vigor 
with which the boys worked out these problems was such that 
for two weeks it seemed best to drop all other experimental 
work. 9 

Each boy then constructed a cylinder on which he traced 
twenty-four lines to represent the twenty-four hours of the 
earth's revolution with axis parallel to the earth's axis. A 
sun-dial for use in the latitude of Chicago was begun. This 
problem required that the cylinder be inclined to make an 
angle equal to the altitude of the polar star and then be cut by a 
plane parallel to the horizontal plane. The intersections of 
the hour lines of the cylinder with the parallel plane would 
be the hour points of the sun-dial on March sist or September 
2ist. On the sist of March the boys all took observations of the 
sun's altitude. They used these to find the latitude of Chicago 
and then attempted the last step of the problem, namely, the 
construction of a plane cutting the cylinders at this angle. This 
required more knowledge of geometrical construction than 
they possessed; time was taken to work it out; and the sun- 
dial was finally completed at the end of the spring quarter. 
Owing to the crowding in the school building, the boys were 
handicapped by the necessity of putting away their material 
each night and by frequent losses. They met this problem by 
asking if they might equip their group room in such a way that 
each boy might have his own desk and thus be responsible for 
his own material. Each week one boy assumed responsibility 
for the apparatus in general use. This plan worked very well. 
Fewer losses and accidents occurred. A greater respect for 
school property as well as for each other's was evidenced after 
they had purchased a portion of their own supplies. 

A study of the various theories of the nebular hypothesis, of 
the position of the fixed stars relative to the earth's yearly mo- 
tion, and a brief summary of the theory of the comets, me- 

9 The time spent on this geographical measurement amounted to about 
an hour and a half a week for three quarters. 


teorites, and the character of the larger planets were correlative 
with this work on intuitional geometric construction. The boys 
were much interested in parts of a lecture given by Mr. 
Chamberlain at the University, and a few attended a lecture 
by Sir Robert Ball. Many of the technical terms were beyond 
their understanding, but they were able to give a fairly good 
account of Mr. Chamberlain's meteoric theory and the forma- 
tion of the continents and ocean basins. 

The plan had been to follow the review of the nebular hy- 
pothesis with regular work that the rest of Group IX had been 
doing on the geological history of the North American con- 
tinent. The experimental science correlative with this was to 
have illustrated the formation of sedimentary rocks. However, 
these boys' vivid interest in their first taste of astronomy and 
the concentrated attention given the geometrical construction 
seemed to make it worth while to go on with this work. The 
main interest was in the great stretches of time involved, the 
conceptions of motion and space. They also showed an appreci- 
ation of the orderly sequence involved in what had before 
seemed to them very irregular phenomena. 

The boys' grasp of the use of geometrical construction in 
their experimental attempts to reconstruct instruments of 
measurement which had been of such untold value to men il- 
lustrates the educational import of the experimental method. 
Knowledge or skill that is tested and found useful is slipped 
into the sequence, the context, the category where it logically 
belongs. It, therefore, fits into the intellectual pattern and fuses 
into the emotional satisfactions of active experience which 
flows on with more energy because of it. 

This work with a difficult group of boys also illustrates the 
necessity of great care and insight on the teacher's part in the 
choice of subject-matter and the use of methods that are in 
accord with the individualized interests and varying abilities 
and attitudes of children. In summarizing the results of this 
experimental course in terms of the development of its indi- 
vidual members, the report comments: Three out of this group 
of ten needed constant assistance in their experimental work 
with the gases and liquids and with the construction of the 


pump, syphon, etc. Three had a good grasp of what they 
wanted to do, but little skill in carrying it out, and four were 
able to make an intelligent plan and carry it through without 
suggestions. The latter also were resourceful in meeting dif- 
ficulties encountered in the material or the process. 


A change of attitude in the approach to scientific facts and 
in his use of scientific method is noticeable in the average child 
of this age, and a corresponding change in the presentation of 
subject-matter is essential. At the end of his twelfth year a 
child in Group IX was familiar, in a general way, with many 
aspects of scientific knowledge, for he had experimented and 
observed to a certain extent in many of its fields, in horticul- 
ture, ecology and zoology, in geology, physiography, as- 
tronomy, and physical and commercial geography, in physics 
and chemistry, biology and physiology. All this study and all 
these experiments had been in connection with activities in 
social life; hence few, if any, of these facts discovered and 
learned had been dislocated from their logical places in ex- 
perience. A child in this school constantly saw natural facts or 
forces in relation to actual situations where they worked or 
functioned usefully. In consequence his idea of a fact or a force 
was often clothed, so to speak, with a concrete dress of use. Just 
as their study of social life its occupations and relationships- 
had made them at ease in a world of men, so familiarity with 
beginnings of natural law and scientific method made them 
unafraid and able to follow the gleam of native curiosity- 
grown in many cases to an eager and intelligent interest. This 
interest was gradually extending itself to causes and farther 
objectives. Coupled with an increased ability to abstract natu- 
ral fact, material, or theory from its place in experience, to 
handle it, to experiment with it, to analyze it, and to formulate 
statements or principles with regard to it, the child's thought 
began to play around a problem, just because it was a problem, 
to hypothecate premises with regard to it, and to attempt to 
prove by experiment the truth or falsity of these premises. 


Some of these children had almost caught up with the adult 
point of view. They were beginning to see science as knowledge 
logically arranged (or possible of such arrangement) for the 
purpose of searching out more knowledge. This was not true 
by any means of all, nor of some all of the time. Such insight 
came irregularly and most often at the heels of eager interest; 
it often took flight as die result of dismal failure in technique. 

This same attitude was apparent and had extended itself to 
a method of proceeding in all the forms of activities of this 
period. In history, the average child of this group had a con- 
crete background and an intellectual appreciation of social 
life, which enabled him to follow political history with a 
degree of interest and to understand something of the con- 
tribution that various civilizations have made to the sum total 
of the present day. He was able to stand an increased emphasis 
on the analysis of language forms, whether English or foreign, 
and could find the synthetic use of such analysis in his own 
efforts at composition. In his number work, the same attitude 
was shown in the ability to formulate for himself definitions 
of numerical processes such as ratio and proportion and to 
state the method used in solving a problem. In music, a genu- 
ine desire to compose a song that expressed the highest musical 
consciousness of the group was proved by the slow critical work 
of an entire quarter. In art, he was ready for a conscious at- 
tention to esthetic elements. He was led to think of art as ap- 
pealing to the sense of beauty and, in his own work, to regard 
beautiful arrangement as well as the mere telling of a story. 
He could in some measure appreciate that difference in effect 
is accomplished by difference in arrangement of line, mass, 
and color, and his critical sense was cultivated and exercised 
by study of classic examples of different effects gained by 
various methods and by his own attempts to sketch from 
memory some chosen painting. At the end of this year these 
children had a start in their own use of knowledge and search 
for it, and some skill in using the method of experimental re- 




programs for the older children of the school, and in 
particular for Groups XI and XII, were highly experimental in 
character. The life of the experiment was too short to revise 
these tentative beginnings for the close of the elementary and 
the beginning of the secondary periods. The worth of the re- 
sults, therefore, lies in what they suggest for other experimen- 
tation of a similar kind, rather than in what they prove or 


The average number in Group X was ten. 1 Most had been 
in the school since its beginning which materially helped the 
successful accomplishment of the program. The centralizing 
factor in the work, aside from club activities, was a daily dis- 
cussion of current events. Young as they were, these children 
had an understanding of how social life is conditioned by and 
organized around the industrial life of a people and, in turn, 
sets the trend of the subsequent type of governmental policy 
and political thought. 2 They, therefore, had gained a com- 
prehensive viewpoint which enabled them, at thirteen, to 
cover the early colonial period of United States history far 

1 Teacher, Georgia G. Bacon. 

2 "Government was presented not as a static thing, but as an organization 
for the regulation of the industrial and social life of a people, changing 
to meet changing needs/* George F. Bacon, "History," Elementary School 
Record, Vol. i, No. 8. 



more quickly and intelligently than they had in their first 
study two years before. They were able to picture the various 
types of social life, the special significance of each colony, and 
the particular contribution which each made to the whole 
country's history. A number of topics on different aspects of 
a situation or period were suggested. Each one in the group 
read and reported on a subject of his own choice. The chil- 
dren were thus encouraged to make their own investigations; 
at the same time they were directed in their reading and in 
the organization of their material. A large number of books 
were listed, and each child was urged to seek out his own 
sources and to get the help of parents and friends in writing 
up his topics. The questions and topics given were of such a 
nature as to lead them to make use of their experience in 
thinking out the answers. To gather together what they had 
learned, a general outline was made of important events, with 
sub-groupings for the subordinate. This outline was used by 
each child in writing his own report. This was not a memory 
test, but a logical arrangement of those facts which might be 
useful. Books were freely consulted during the writing. 

With the completion of the first quarter's work in history, 
the children had come in their continued story of the stream of 
time and the accomplishments of man, close to their own 
period and conditions of living. The text of the story was 
always the way different groups of people had dealt with, used, 
and subdued their environment, how they had wrung from 
it the means for its further subduing and more adequate 
ministering to their rapidly increasing needs. In following the 
details of this oft repeated story, these children saw that as 
man's needs increased in number and kind, so did his apprecia- 
tion of the value of satisfied senses, of convenience, of comfort, 
of beauty deepen. Each child saw and often reenacted the part 
that activity played in all this moving and dynamic drama. 
Ideas became deeds and brought about results that changed 
current ways of living and gave incentive to a further quest. 
When the mental image of the bow and arrow first found 
form and use and brought down food or the beast of prey from 
afar, it made of living a less tortured thing and brought satis- 


faction to appetite, release from fear, renewed confidence in 
ability, and increased desire for the struggle. These children, 
sailing their tiny ships along the Mediterranean coast, realized 
the release to sail fearlessly into the wide ocean brought by 
the discovery of the compass. Into the small rivulets of each 
child's experience, therefore, flowed these tricklings from the 
great stream of human endeavor, the doings of man, his in- 
ventions, his discoveries, his accomplishments in the physical 
world, his method of thinking, and the growing fabric of his 
social relationship. Impelled to action by the same funda- 
mental desire to express, and again to re-express, to invent and 
then to re-invent, to do once and re-do under the spell of the 
reward of ever better doing, these children of the present fol- 
lowed the fast moving life-stream of the past. Through his 
power of imaginative thinking, each child became, to a greater 
or lesser extent, one of its currents and was swept into and 
carried on to a more sympathetic understanding of the dy- 
namic story of the race. Little by little the idea was born that 
the use of thinking is to manage experience. This idea, through 
use of it, grew into a consciously formulated principle that 
guided daily activities with the result that out of repeated 
successes and failures these children gained the ability to think 
logically and to the point, to plan, and, in varying degree, to 
decide judiciously and execute effectively. Many of them, con- 
fronted by a dividing of the ways, an ambiguous situation 
presenting a dilemma or proposing an alternative, were less 
and less often disposed to conclude that the solution or deci- 
sion was beyond them. Both as individuals and as a group they 
recognized that a forked-road situation required thinking and 
were willing to consider before leaping into action. Steadied 
and inspired by the desire to find the best way out, they were 
ready to discuss a plan and the steps of a plan. In case of failure 
they were not so easily discouraged as most children, for they 
generally had an alternative, or by eliminating the factor 
which might have caused failure, could thus revise the original 
plan and bring it to a successful completion. 

At thirteen years, therefore, these children, as a result of 
experience, were able in some measure to abstract facts for 


use in activity, to generalize on the basis of repeated use of 
these facts, and to formulate principles on the strength of 
substantiated generalizations. In consequence, their viewpoint 
was gradually changing, particularly in the more extended 
fields of their experience, from the psychological approach of 
the learner or mere observer of facts to the logical one of the 
adult, who observes to an end and classifies what he has ob- 
served w r ith the purpose of its further use. For the most part 
each child began to see the value to him of reviews, of sum- 
maries, of the analysis of a problem or a situation, of the clas- 
sification of facts into their categories, or the logical arrange- 
ment of knowledge to facilitate its further use in any field of 
activity. This appreciation w r as shown in various ways, for 
example: the agenda of their club meeting or program for 
assembly was prepared so that it had logical sequence. This 
was true too of the preparation of the points of a debate or 
assembly paper, or the arrangement of the data of an experi- 

Out of the increasing ability to observe, to analyze, and to 
select that which might be adapted to use, emerged a growing 
sense of power in self-expression, of ability to link observed 
facts in new combinations or to fashion raw materials into the 
more finished product that satisfied the growing and increas- 
ingly critical mental concept. This budding desire to put 
things together after taking them apart and the appreciation 
that the purpose of analysis is a re-synthesis which may be 
better than the former whole marked a new stage of growth. 
Power to conceive, to evaluate, and skill to execute were indi- 
cations of the birth of individual creative power. The hereto- 
fore intensely satisfying story of what man had done paled 
before the exciting and fascinating thing that each boy or girl 
felt he might do. For each the present, his own experiments, his 
work in shop or studio, his own social position in his class, his 
club, his school, his family, became of paramount importance. 
The study of history became far less important than the mak- 
ing of his own history. His own activities, and in particular 
those which had become particularly significant and useful be- 
cause of the consequences they had accomplished, took on a 


continuous character with a growing purpose. Because of the 
social character of the school, the distinctive capacity of each 
child found an outlet through his preferred activity. This 
individual expression often proved of service to his group or 
to the school. Because of the unique nature of the school's or- 
ganization, these children had greater opportunity than most, 
not only to find out what each liked best or was fitted to do, 
but, so far as possible, opportunity to do it. They, therefore, 
earlier than most children, learned what their preferred oc- 
cupations were and received training for them by training in 
them. Their individual needs and interests were the clues, 
the sign-posts, that constantly indicated growing capacity and 
special aptitude. 


One of the vital interests of Group X was photography. 
As Group IX they had made pin-hole cameras in the shop and 
were anxious to perfect these and go on to the actual taking, 
development, and printing of pictures. Many of them had car- 
ried on their own experiments during the summer and were all 
ready, therefore, so far as interest went, to grapple with the 
study of light, already planned for their autumn program. 

In their work on the growth of North America, the previous 
year, this group had reviewed and summarized the various 
theories of the earth's formation, its position in the solar sys- 
tem in relation to climatic conditions, and the main physical 
forces which have formed and are still forming the continent of 
North America. It was considered highly important to em- 
phasize the dynamic quality of this study in order that the 
child might understand the present as but a stage in a long 
series of changes and realize a link to future ones, and that the 
physical (and social) forces, which acted in the past to bring 
about these changes, act still. 

In this second imaginative remaking of a continent, much 
explanation is necessary to secure typical experiences of such 
things as the action of a gas on a solid, the solution of solids 
and the change by such action in water, the crystallization of 


the solid from that solution, the solution of a gas in a liquid, 
and the conditions which determine that solution. These ex- 
periments were illustrations that unlocked the secret meaning 
of the processes that formed the earth. They were also planned 
to demonstrate some present use of the material involved. 

Through a physiographic first-hand study of local conditions 
near Chicago the children had gained a series of mental pictures 
of the action of glaciers, rivers, waves, and the formation of 
sand dunes. The outstanding characteristics of the chief evolu- 
tionary types of plant and animal life were restated. During 
the year the work was still further differentiated along the physi- 
cal and biological aspects. Emphasis was successively laid on 
special forms of energy, gravity, electricity, heat, in relation to 
their geological study. On the biological side, particular con- 
sideration was given to the study of function. This again related 
to a special consideration of the respiratory system and digestive 
tract in relation to types of food and methods of preparation. 
A natural transition had thus been made by means of practical 
or applied science to a more technical study of biology and 
physics. The interest in photography also made this transition 
a natural one from the children's point of view. 

Group X's work in science 3 during the first quarter, there- 
fore, related itself to a use of the camera and a study of its 
parts, the meaning of laws of focusing and of perspective. Other 
instruments such as the microscope, telescope, the magic lantern, 
and the primitive methods of signaling by means of mirrors 
were included in the course. Many excursions were made to 
the University laboratory to see perfected instruments, such as 
the interferometer and spectroscope, for demonstrating what 
they could only roughly approximate or estimate. This connec- 
tion with the University and adults who were studying and 
working on the same problems steadied and heightened the 
children's appreciation of the importance and reality of their 

s Arthur Taber Jones, a student of Professor A, A. Michelson's. Mr. Jones 
came each day fresh from his own laboratory study and was unusually 
successful in his experiment of recalling the course of the college laboratory 
so that children were able to carry on simplified experiments demonstrating 
the same principles. 


work. The actual work was a series of experiments on light, 
bringing out the principles involved in the construction of an 
image in a convex lens. The children began by working out 
the laws which govern the size of a shadow. Two sets of experi- 
ments were carried out which required careful work and covered 
a number of periods. At their close, the children were ready for 
the construction of an image in a convex lens. This was worked 
out four times with dimensions given by the teacher. 4 Some 
work in reflection was also undertaken, the relation between 
the complements of the angles of incidence and reflection being 
worked out by a diagram. Some part of the class periods was 
given to a discussion of instruments in which lenses are used. 
The class made out lists of all the instruments they could think 
of that used lenses, and had some fifteen to talk about. The 
one of greatest interest was probably the spectroscope. The 
group visited Ryerson Physical Laboratory and saw a spectro- 
scope and a few spectra. 

The children were then ready for simple photography. In 
preparation they had been making pin-hole cameras in the 
shop and frames to form a dark room. As a first experiment, a 
piece of leather was moistened with a solution of silver nitrate, 
as Thomas Wedgewood did. A design in paper was then pinned 
on the leather and the whole exposed to the light. After a time 
it was noticed that the part of the leather not covered by the 
paper had darkened considerably, while that covered was not 
noticeably darker than when the paper was put on. 

A brief description of the daguerreotype followed, and the 
work of Fox Talbot was taken up. For illustration by experi- 
ment, some silver chloride was precipitated from a solution of 
sodium chloride by pouring into it a solution of silver nitrate. 
The precipitated silver chloride was then spread on a paper 
in the light and darkened rather rapidly. The mechanism of 
different kinds of cameras and the uses of the parts were studied, 

* The results of individual children agreed about as closely as could be 
expected. A comment is made that the children evidently enjoy this kind 
of work. One of them exclaimed the other day in a tone of extreme gladness 
and importance, "Oh, Mr. Jones, we've made a discovery." 


but any further work in the development of pictures was made 
impossible because there was no dark room. Even space for the 
construction of one was lacking. Interest in practical photog- 
raphy for the time being, therefore, waned, and the course was 
discontinued until later in the year. 

The science for the winter quarter was a continuation of the 
study of light, emphasizing the history of the various scientific 
theories as to its nature. The children first reviewed and stated 
the four conditions necessary for the sight of an object: (i) the 
object must be present and within range of the eye; (2) the eye 
must be directed toward the object; (3) there must be no opaque 
body between the eye and the object; (4) light must be present. 

The various theories of the ancient Greeks and the corpuscu- 
lar theory of the sixteenth century were then stated. Each of 
these was tested by the four conditions listed above. The wave 
theory was considered, and the objections to it discussed. The 
action of waves of light was roughly illustrated by the vibra- 
tions of a piece of rubber tubing. Experiments with the tuning 
fork and with vibrating strings brought out the principle of 
interference. The use of the interferometer was explained, and 
a study of the spectrum and the spectroscope followed. The 
composition of white light w r as demonstrated by experiment 
The relation of the rate of vibration to tension and length was 
brought out by the use of the rubber tubing. A brief study of 
spectrum analysis and of the recent discoveries made by its 
use was the final work before writing up the record of the 
quarter. The group all saw that by means of the solar spectrum 
some idea has been gained of the constitution and temperature 
of the sun. In view of the prevalent skepticism about the 
capacity of children of this age to understand such a science 
course as the above, it must be borne in mind that these children 
had had five years of experience in this kind of schooling. This 
meant five years of training in experimental method and prac- 
tices. Their first attempt in the abstractions necessary in the 
scientific treatment of their environment had been made four 
years before when they had learned general scientific principles 
through the use of what they themselves saw happening around 


them. They then related this to their previous incursions into 
geology and thus linked their experiences in the two fields of 
physiography and geology. 

In the spring the children again took up the study of botany, 
beginning with a review of their knowledge of the functions 
of leaves. The following facts were formulated: leaves receive 
light and give off water; they absorb and give off carbon dioxide. 
Seeds of different kinds were planted in order to have a variety 
of plants for study. They then began some experiments to show 
the effect of exposure to light on the amount of starch found 
in the leaves. Leaves of a growing plant were protected from 
light by thin pieces of cork fastened above and below, and 
when it was found that the chlorophyl had noticeably decreased, 
the part of the leaf which had been protected was boiled in 
alcohol to remove the chlorophyl and then tested with iodine. 
No starch was found, and the children concluded that light is 
necessary to its formation. Another experiment had for its ob- 
ject a comparison of the rate of evaporation from the upper 
with that from the under side of leaves, and that during the day 
with that at night. The experiments were supplemented by 
correlated reading. A study of the parts of flowers in relation 
to function was also included in the course, using the iris, the 
nasturtium, and the wild mustard blossoms. 

Toward the close of the fall quarter the demands of the very 
active Camera Club for a dark room grew loud and insistent. 
Lack of space in the house at Ellis Avenue, which two years 
before had seemed so large and commodious, was cramping and 
checking this and other of the rapidly growing interests of 
the older children, specializing, as many of them were, along 
lines which called for new equipment and space for individual 


In response to these many developing angles of interest a 
number of social organizations had sprung up. The most active 
enterprise was a Dewey Club for discussion and debate. This 
group, like the Camera Club and all the others, was sadly 
put to it for quarters. There was no spot which they could call 


their own, where their meetings could be free from interruption 
and under their own control. Out of the actual, pressing, and 
felt need of the children the idea of the club-house was born 
an actual house planned, built, and furnished by themselves. 
The two clubs joined forces, discussed the idea, consulted with 
the adults, and decided that the erection of a club-house was a 
feasible plan. Committees on architecture, building, sanitation, 
ways and means, and interior decoration were formed, each with 
a head chosen because of experience in directing affairs. The 
site for the building was chosen under the guidance of the 
teachers in the different departments; plans were made and 
the cost estimated. A scheme for decoration was worked out, 
designs for furniture made. The choice of a location was 
prefaced by a study of the formation of soil, the conditions of 
drainage, climate, exposure to light or wind, which must be 
taken into account in building a house. The contrast between 
city and country requirements was noted Each member of the 
group was afterwards asked to draw a plan for the house, keep 
ing all the above points in mind. 

The choice of the site of the house in relation to the type of 
foundation was extended into a study of the relation of material 
and range of soil to house sites in general. This led to a larger 
consideration of the character of Chicago city sites. The im- 
portance to city building of a knowledge of its underlying 
geological formation in its effect on drainage was the point of 
departure for the subsequent study of the physiography of the 
region. This study reviewed the physical geography of Chicago 
and the city's unique trading situation in the Great Lakes, 
its drainage problem, the building of the canal. The course 
in local physiography and geography consisted almost entirely 
of field trips under a teacher trained at the University of Chi- 
cago by Professor Rollin D. Salisbury. These field trips were 
followed by write-ups of notes and class discussions. Maps were 
drawn to illustrate the formation of the great lakes and the 
St. Lawrence Valley by the retreating glaciers. The whole course 
was characterized recently by one of its members as one of the 
most interesting studies he had ever had. 
In the meantime the children's own problem of a club-house 


site had related Itself through skilfully directed discussion to 
large and interesting facts, such as the difficulties engineers had 
met in constructing the foundation piers of the huge downtown 
buildings and the direct relation of well drained building sites 
to health and security. The details of what constitute sanitary 
conditions, such as proper ventilation to prevent dampness, 
were worked out by the class. Similarly, the size and proportion 
of the windows, the relation of the amount of light admitted 
to health, proportions and proper placing of the fireplace so 
that it was both pleasing and convenient, all these presented no 
inconsiderable problems. 5 Moreover, because of the diminutive 
size of the building, small errors would be important, which 
in turn magnified the need of accurate measurement and work- 

In the studio, discussion went on as to the style of architecture 
that would be suitable. This was the occasion for a brief study 
of architecture and the origin of the various familiar types. 
Among other things the children found that Greece and Egypt 
were the homes of the lintel, Rome of the round arch, and 
Europe of the pointed arch of Gothic and Saracenic architec- 
ture. The style which they at last selected for their club-house 
was "just as colonial as we can make it." They discussed house 
decorations and furnishings and decided that only the beauti- 
ful and the useful have any excuse for existence. The qualities 
judged necessary for use were strength, durability, and firmness 
of material; for beauty, form, color, quality of material, and 
consistent style. This study included the sketching and modeling 
of antique buildings, the study of pictures, and trips to the 
Field Museum. In addition, outdoor sketching as a basis for 
the study of perspective was carried on through the spring 

The interior decoration, like the problem of the fireplace and 
windows, was a subject of many exciting questions and discus- 
sions with the art and textile teachers. Mistakes were often 
made and were permitted. When against the advice of the 
elders, the committee chose a stain for the walls which proved 

s A mason was secured to help with the fireplace on the advice of the 
parents in order that all risk of fire from a defective flue might be avoided. 


too dark for a small room, the problems of curtains and cushions 
became serious, for much color was necessary to brighten and 
lighten the general effect. 

A considerable amount of the actual construction of the 
little house was accomplished by the children with no outside 
help. Work proceeded rather slowly, however, for Group X 
only included twelve members. The club-house, moreover, was 
their own pet project, and they jealously guarded the privilege 
of work upon it. Pressure of their other classes left only a small 
amount of school time for the work, so much 8 was done in the 
children's free time at noons and after school. Complications 
also arose. The Camera Club insisted upon a stairway to the 
attic, which was their dark room. This complicated the interior 
construction. The children, however, met this problem with 
some help, careful planning, and allotment of tasks according 
to interest and ability. No part of the interior finishing was at- 
tempted until working drawings had been completed. This 
was true also of each piece of furniture constructed. Many of 
these drawings were made in the studio under constant direc- 
tion. Those responsible for them were held to an astonishing 
degree of accuracy in order to avoid having a drawing turned 
back by the carpenters with sharp criticism couched in no un- 
certain terms. The report indicates that on the completion of 
the working drawings of the stairway, the front door, the 
window trim, and interior finish, the children so thoroughly 
understood what was to be done that in the shop all the dif- 
ferent structural parts of the stairway were taken charge of 
by the girls in the class, each being responsible for the part 
selected. The boys assumed responsibility for the front door, 
cut the stock, and on its completion considered the difficulties 
which would be met when they put on the hinges and hung the 
door. On the stairway, the different structural parts such as the 
stringers were carefully marked out to show the proper size of 
treads and risers, and the upper and lower ends labeled to make 
the proper connections with the adjoining parts, whether the 
first part, the landing, or the second story floor. The four 

* Preparation for college board examinations had also begun. 


stringers were all nicely sawed from 2" x 12" planks and put up. 
The joists, posts, and framework of the two landings were then 
prepared, and work commenced on the treads and risers. All 
the pieces and parts were made in the shop by individuals work- 
ing from the drawings and were then assembled in the club- 
house by the entire class. Covering the ceiling and walls with 
flooring was comparatively quick work. Finishing the mantel 
piece with shellac, installing the trim of doors and windows 
and a bric-a-brac shelf on brackets extending around the room, 
made the house ready to receive the furniture, which the chil- 
dren were anxious to plan and make. All the children were 
increasingly enthusiastic and lent their best efforts as they saw 
the vision of the completed building. There were times, of 
course, when interest waned, as with the shingling of the roof. 
This work, involving much drudgery in the hot sun, was a 
never-ending job. At last, emulating Tom Sawyer, the next 
lower class was invited to assist, and in one noon hour, that 
which had been gapping to the skies for several weeks was fin- 
ished with the aid of these younger brothers and sisters. 

As the work went on, Group X realized that what they had 
undertaken was beyond their own powers to accomplish, and lit- 
tle by little the whole school was drawn into cooperative effort 
to finish the building. There was need of careful suggestion 
and direction by the teachers, both to avoid too much and too 
little guidance and also of much team-work by the various 
departments of the school. 7 This enterprise was the most thor- 
oughly considered one ever undertaken in the school. Because 
of its purpose, to provide a home for their own clubs and in- 
terests, it drew together many groups and ages and performed 
a distinctly ethical and social service. It ironed out many evi- 

7 Frank Ball, head of the Manual Training Department, was largely re- 
sponsible for the successful management of the project which was finally 
carried to conclusion under the sympathetic direction of Mr. N. and 
Mr. G. Fowler. Clinton S. Osborn (mathematics) in cooperation with Lil- 
lian Cushman directed the plans and helped the children select their 
materials and make out their specifications. Althea Harmer (Home Eco- 
nomics) directed the work of choosing the site and the course in sanitation 
that followed, and Harry O. Gillett, its further extension into a course in 
geology and physiography of the region. The art and textile studios were 
centers of activity as has been indicated. 




dences of an unsocial and cliquish spirit which had begun to 
appear in the club movement. As the children came to realize 
the possibilities afforded by the cooperation of numbers, this 
spirit changed from an exclusive to an inclusive one. The boys 
busy on the benches and the girls working on the cushions were 
brought together by a common purpose as they had not been 
for more than a year. The original club, meanwhile, took on a 
departmental character, with sections devoted to photography, 
botany, debating, and science, and was named the Educational 
Club. Members were chosen from the lower groups, and various 
committees were appointed, not on the basis of personal prefer- 
ence but of fitness for responsibilities. Another value of the 
project was that the children made contacts with a wide variety 
of professional people whom they consulted on their problems 
or from whom they purchased supplies. 8 An hour was spent 
with one of the parents in discussing parliamentary law in 
order to learn how to conduct a meeting on house member- 
ship. The financial organization of the club caused frequent 
anxious hours, for a system of dues and fines had been in- 
stalled which proved far too complicated. 

The project also furnished many kinds of activities, and ex- 
cept where it was essential to work as a group, each child was 
free to choose his sort of contribution. To the great delight of 
all, the little building was finished and furnished in the latter 
part of the last year of the school. The clubs used it, but for all 
too brief a time, as the next year found the children at the Uni- 
versity High School, some distance away from the site of the 
old Laboratory School and their club-house. 


In the meantime, lest the groups should grow too self- 
centered in their fascinating project, it was deemed wise for 
them to spend some time on current events. The war in South 
Africa, the government of Porto Rico, and the transcontinental 

s The educational value of purchasing and accounting was not utilized 
as fully as it might have been, owing to pressure of time and distance from 
source of supplies. 


railways were among the topics discussed. Their comment upon 
the state of affairs in Porto Rico was to the effect that if Eng- 
land had treated the American colonies as well as we have 
treated Porto Rico and taxed them only until they were able 
to take care of themselves, there might have been no Revolu- 

Before taking up the actual progress of the transcontinental 
railway, the class looked the map over and discussed feasible 
plans. There was great discussion as to whether it would be 
better to build a bridge over the Strait of Gibraltar or to tunnel 
underneath, but the latter plan finally carried the day. They 
were then told of the plan which had actually been made for 
such an enterprise. In discussing the railway across China, the 
children were greatly impressed with the opposition shown by 
China to the advance of western civilization and asked what 
China had ever done to benefit the world. One of the children 
said in this discussion: "Nations are just like people: first they 
are little, then they grow big and die, and then another nation 
comes along and takes up what they have done and goes on 
with it." 


During this year of intense activity the usual attention was 
given to an increasing use of language. The aim was to inculcate 
an increasing respect for language symbols as a means for self- 
expression and for description of individual and joint under- 
takings. Such use of language brought a deepening realization 
of the meaning of daily experience in both its individual and 
social aspects. It involved a voluntary search for new words 
wherewith to describe the experiment, the excursion, the proc- 
ess, or construction. It extended the meaning of present living 
and linked it to the doings, the sayings, the happenings, dis- 
coveries, inventions, formulations, verbal or written expres- 
sions of persons of other times and remote places. ' 

The school was a miniature social group where study and 
growth were incident to shared activity. Its playgrounds, shops, 
work rooms and laboratories not only directed the natural active 
tendencies of these young people but work in them involved 


intercourse, communication, and cooperation. Language was 
constantly used to give or get ideas about joint work, and the 
children quite naturally came to regard the right descriptive 
words as the best means of getting or giving social direction 
to a joint endeavor. Their vocabulary, therefore, was built up 
in conjunction with their use of the physical means. Mental 
concepts included thing or process and word or words to de- 
scribe each. The children, therefore, could talk or write of what 
they did with comparative ease and could read of what others 
had accomplished along similar lines with more comprehension 
than most children of this age. Most important of all, as a re- 
sult of having shared constantly in joint undertakings, the 
children possessed the concrete quality of mind that enabled 
them to understand things in terms of the use made of them. 
Furthermore, their mental attitudes were consistently social. 
They understood things in terms of the use to which they were 
turned in joint or shared situations. They consequently knew 
how to think, to plan, to act as a group, and there were among 
them those who had grown into an efficient method of con- 
trolling and directing group action by their ready statement of 
plans or measures. 

There were some in the group who wished to read to the 
school assembly what they had written with the expression 
that would convey their thought more accurately. They were 
interested in studying the technique of good reading. The 
group decided that in order to read well one must have a clear 
mental picture of what is read. The poem of Miles Standish 
was chosen. 9 They found that the reading voice has a scale and 
tone color, that a sentence has rhythmical qualities, and, above 
all, that self-directed breath is the foundation of vocal expres- 
sion. They also saw that physical position is requisite to secure 
this breathing. At the close of the course each child asked for 
a poem with which he could tell his own story his own way, and 
special voice work with individual children was undertaken. 

In music, these children began a study of harmony. The 
formal intellectual work went on harmoniously, but in song 

Course given by Minerva Butlin. 


singing and song writing, the boys were very self-conscious. The 
group finally succeeded in writing a two-part song which they 
notated upon the board and copied upon tablets, but which 
they regarded so critically and with so little satisfaction that 
it was difficult to induce them to sing it before the school chorus, 
as was the usual custom. The tone of the group was strained 
and unsatisfactory through the entire quarter. 

The group studied algebra and arithmetic, emphasis being 
laid on the fact that algebra is only generalized arithmetic. 10 
Laws were developed and formulated by the children as they 
went along. Special emphasis was laid on the study of ratio 
and proportion, each child working out his own statement of 
both. The number work was used extensively in the shop for 
the working drawings of the club-house or in estimating ex- 
penses and calculating dues. 

Although there were some children in this group whose 
progress in the traditional school studies was retarded, on the 
whole their school experience fully demonstrated that the more 
direct modes of activity present plenty of opportunities and 
occasions for the necessary use of reading, writing, spelling, 
and number work. It is repeated at the risk of tiresome reitera- 
tion that these things were introduced, not as isolated studies, 
but as organic outgrowths of the child's experience. The ad- 
ditional vitality and meaning which these studies thus secured 
made possible a considerable reduction of the time usually 
given to them. The use of tool subjects, especially by the older 
children, whether in reading, calculation, or composition, was 
more intelligent and less mechanical, more active and less 
passively receptive, and gave more evidence of increasing power 
than is usual with children of thirteen. 

10 Course taught by Clinton S. Osborn. One quarter Anne Moore taught 
logarithms and angle measurement, as they were needed in the work on 




AN a developing experiment such as that of the school, the 
work of the oldest children is of necessity highly exploratory 
and tentative in character. Because of the school's early demise 
also, many of the courses for this age were repeated but once, 
or at the most twice. An account of them is, therefore, only 
suggestive of a way in which the interests and activities of the 
elementary stage may be guided into the deviating paths of 
the more specialized interests and subject-matter of the second- 
ary period. 

Careful study of the school's brief and very condensed records 
during the year 1901-1902 seems to indicate that in this year 
the two older groups were united into one. This was true for 
at least certain of their studies. The oldest members of this 
united group (who normally would have been classified as 
Group XII) were given special tutoring and review courses 
in preparation for their college board examinations, which 
were complicating the program. Had the group consisted solely 
of those who had followed the consecutively developing pro- 
gram of the school, and had it not been hampered by the de- 
mands of college entrance examinations, the various courses 
for the oldest children doubtless would have followed a far 
different and more logical plan, hints of which appear in the 
records. Roman history would have been studied from the 
point of view of the political state; the history of industry and 
of social groupings would have been developed; and more of 
the specialized sciences gradually would have found their places 


in the curriculum. As it was, the theoretical plan for the oldest 
children was greatly altered by circumstances. There was also 
lack of space and of proper laboratories and equipment for 
older children. Many of these difficulties were swept away in 
the following year when the Laboratory School, for one year, 
became a part of the School of Education, and moved into its 
beautiful new building. Records of the work of that year 
(1902-1903), however, were not available; hence the history of 
the school ends with the records of Group XL 1 


For two years the course in general science for these children 
had been separated into its physiographical and biological as- 
pects. The year before the children had continued the study 
of the various forms of energy with special emphasis on light. 
This course had included a fundamental consideration of vari- 
ous theories of energy and had been in the nature of an intro- 
duction to the technical study of physics, which would soon 
enter the program of those preparing for college entrance ex- 
aminations. The science course 3 planned for Group XI was 
a continued and more detailed consideration of their earlier 
study of existing types of animal life. This was constantly re- 
lated to the evolutionary processes touched upon in the geologi- 
cal study of North America the preceding year. It was char- 
acterized by more laboratory work and outdoor excursions 
than usually mark a study of biology in the secondary period. 
The aim was to preserve the spirit of individual investigation 
and rediscovery that had characterized the children's scientific 
work from the beginning. 

The study of mathematics also became more highly spe- 
cialized. The work in algebra included involution, evolution, 
the theory of exponents, and operations involving radical 
quantities. In geometry, each member of the group worked out, 
for the most part independently, from twenty to thirty proposi- 
tions and exercises and wrote up his demonstrations with a 

1 Group teacher, Alice C. Dewey. 

2 Course given by George Garrey, University of Chicago. 


varying degree of care. In addition to that of clarifying the 
children's fundamental mathematical ideas, three ulterior pur- 
poses were kept in view by the teacher of this course: to train 
each individual into the highest degree of independence and 
perseverance in attacking new and difficult work, to aid him 
in developing a clear concept of what constitutes a geometrical 
demonstration, to attain clear, definite, and concise expression. 


In the second quarter the pupils used Will's Essentials of 
Geometry as the basis of their work and were able to work 
more rapidly than when they had had to make constructions 
as well as work out demonstrations from dictated exercises. 
The propositions of Book I and many other related exercises 
were coveredin all about one hundred. In order to have time 
to finish the desired work in algebra, geometry was dis- 
continued in May without reviewing the work done. The 
remainder of the quarter was spent in the study of radical equa- 
tions, quadratic equations, the theory of quadratics, and prob- 
lems involving quadratics. Although all the work usually pre- 
scribed for college entrance was taken up, only a few of the 
group completed the course in a satisfactory way. Some of them 
were hampered by lack of a ready command of fundamental 
principles and processes. Others did not put sufficient time 
on study to acquire familiarity with and ready application of 
the principles. The work of three was highly satisfactory, but 
even these needed a month of review before taking college 
examinations. It was felt that other members of the group would 
require at least another quarter's work on the important and 
more technical parts of the subject. 3 

The work in history was also more specialized than in previ- 
ous years. Six years' study of social living the world over, as well 

s "It is possible a mistake was made in trying to carry both algebra and 
geometry together during this year. With only three hours, or less, of class- 
room work and a limited amount of home study, some of the group failed 
to keep up the necessary amount of momentum to carry two such subjects 
satisfactorily." Clinton S. Osborn, teacher. 


as that of their own present, had more or less adequately pre- 
pared these children to appreciate a study of certain thoroughly 
differentiated and, so to speak, peculiar types of social life. It 
was hoped that on the basis of their rather thorough knowledge 
of both the principles and facts of social life they would be able 
to discover for themselves the special significance of each civili- 
zation and the particular contribution it had made to the 
world's history. The plan, therefore, was to change from the 
psychological approach to a study of history to the chronolgical, 
to begin with the ancient world around the Mediterranean and 
come down again through the European story to the peculiar 
and differentiating factors of American history. The plan, how- 
ever, was tried for two years only, and the records of the work 
of the last year are too meagre for inferences of any value to 
be drawn as to its ultimate success. In history, much time was 
also given to making up the lacks in the consecutive study of 
history required by college entrance examinations. 4 

The shop-work of this group for the quarter was not up to 
the standard of that of Groups VIII or IX. The pupils chose 
their own work, and the results were unsatisfactory. Some 
showed a lack of ambition to undertake any worthy object; 
some were ambitious beyond their skill; and some lacked de- 
cision and perseverance. When careful work was required, most 
of the group worked very slowly. The boys took some time to 
complete the tool drawers in their benches, did some repair 
work about the school and finished a tripod for a camera and 
a bread board. The girls completed tool boxes, a mail box, two 
or three book racks, a window seat, an oak table, an oak music 
rack, and other smaller articles. The whole-hearted effort and 
genuine interest of other years seems to have been lacking. 
The cooking as a course had been discontinued with Group IX, 
but on occasions when distinguished guests were present at 
luncheon, the older groups were called in to plan, prepare, and 
serve the meal. 

The work in languages, French, Latin, and English, took on 
a specialized character. In Latin, before beginning Caesar's 

* A number of children had not been in the school from its beginning 
and, in consequence, had not had all of its history courses. 


Commentaries, the class read his biography from Viri Romae* 
In translation, emphasis was laid on syntax. In composition, 
the aim was to help die children to gain a free use of Latin 
idioms in their translation of English into Latin and in their 
condensed historical reports. Sight reading was also part of the 
program, and in connection with work on the Gallic wars a 
detailed study of the life of Caesar's times was made, of its out- 
standing men and the social, intellectual, and political events 
of the period. In this year the children also started their first 
formal study of the English language, and English was chosen 
as the subject for special emphasis during the year. Some in- 
tensive work was done on Latin derivatives. The points em- 
phasized were: (i) consonant and vowel changes; (2) suffixes 
and prefixes, their value and changes; (3) groxvth and change 
in the meaning of derivatives. Cooperation with the French 
teacher was necessary as the Latin element in the English lan- 
guage, while partly derived directly from Latin, has, in the 
main, come through French, and has been largely modified in 
the process. 

The first piece of work in composition 6 was a theme relating 
to summer experience. The children's style was clear and fluent, 
but inclined to be loose and inaccurate in sentence structure. 
Careful criticism brought out some difficult grammatical points 
which were analyzed and discussed; considerable logical power 
was evidenced in attacking these grammatical problems. After 
this preliminary work, the reading of one of Shakespeare's plays 
was undertaken. As these children had not the habit of reading 
aloud, they were very awkward. They had never read a play, 
with the exception of two pupils. They knew nothing of 
Shakespeare, nor of dramatic history, so a brief sketch of 
Shakespeare's life and the prominent social features of his 
time was made from books which the children read them- 
selves. They had no way of expressing their ideas of meter and 
in the beginning found it difficult to tell when they omitted a 
syllable or inserted one which did not belong in the phrase. 
As their attention had to be continually interrupted to dis- 

Taught by Marion Schibsby. 
Taught by Alice C. Bewey. 


cover errors in reading, the work went very slowly at first. They 
had had Roman History so that they understood the story of 
the play. They committed to memory some couplets and short 
passages, and as soon as the study of the first act was com- 
pleted, they prepared an abstract. By this time they had enough 
command of method to understand the character of work ex- 
pected of them, and their interest in the story and the dramatic 
setting was thoroughly aroused. The play was completed by 
Christmas time; abstracts of each act were written; and an out- 
line of the entire play given by every pupil in the class. In a 
general way they understood the difference between the Shake- 
spearean drama and preceding English drama. They were 
familiar with the versification so far as its use went, although 
no technical terms were given to them. The class showed par- 
ticular interest in the character study. Two members carried 
on a two-day debate over the comparative virtues of Brutus 
and Cassius. Each member of the class had weighed all the 
main characters and could give an opinion on their virtues or 
vices and the relative importance of the part each had in the 

This study cleared the way for a return to a study of the 
village life and history of Shakespeare's time. Notes were made 
of the many incidental allusions to the commercial changes 
which were taking place in England. To explain these allusions 
a study of the Tudor family's position and importance in history 
was made in the winter quarter. The religious attitude of 
France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands was also discussed. 
Since the pupils had no idea of the reasons why this period was 
called the Renaissance of Learning, biographies of the great 
discoverers in science were read. The discovery of the New 
World and its commercial importance they already understood. 
They studied the lives of Copernicus, of Sir Thomas More, 
Martin Luther, the inventors of printing, and the story of the 
rise of Protestantism and the settlement of Ireland. Working 
back in history from Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth to the 
Wars of the Roses, they studied Shakespeare's King Richard HI, 
following the same method used in Julius Caesar. About five 


or six weeks were spent on the play. The class was much shocked 
by the evil portrayed, and interest was somewhat depressed by 
the shock to their feelings. The outlines and abstracts o the 
acts were prepared, and a very good idea of the historical setting 
was gained. The class was somewhat critical of the play and in- 
clined to compare it with Julius Caesar, which they considered 
much superior. However, in the end they were all impressed by 
the intellect of King Richard, as well as horrified by his wicked- 


In the spring quarter work followed quite different lines. 
It consisted of a critical analysis of the class papers prepared in 
science. 7 The subjects of these papers were volcanoes, glaciers, 
and other physiographical features. The first task was to pre- 
pare an outline of what they themselves were to write. They 
had no idea how to attack this and in the first attempt were 
quite as likely to put descriptions into their outlines as to 
separate the headings or main topics. However, as the subject- 
matter had been given them in logical order in the science class, 
they soon grasped the idea that the order of composition was 
simply the logic of thought or subject-matter, and rapidly gained 
power to prepare clear and accurate outlines. The only details 
taken up were those of grammar and sentence structure. The 
differentiation between English and Latin caused them some 
difficulty. In the former, they had to learn to depend upon 
their 6wn analysis to determine the relation of a word to the 
sentence. They were inclined at first to define such terms as 
subject and object in too restricted a way. They came to see 
that where no endings existed to place the word, the difficulty 
of defining its use was increased. The main points in sentence 
analysis, they soon grasped. Certain forms of diagramming sen- 
tences were given, but these were not used for more than two 
days, although the class showed an inclination to come back 
to them. As time went on, they improved greatly in definiteness 

T Taught by Wallace Atwood. 


of statement and in ability to criticize their own forms of ex- 
pression. Considerable time was spent throughout the entire 
year in studying the derivations of words and the historical 
development of their meanings. At the beginning of the year 
the whole class was satisfied with a very loose explanation of 
the meaning of a word, but after the year's study not one was 
satisfied until he had looked it up in the Century Dictionary. 
They often followed a word to its roots in other languages. 

Group XI also carried on the printing of a daily newspaper 
for a short time, as did other groups. This did much to interest 
the children in language expression. On account of the pres- 
sure of time, inconvenient quarters, and type of press, the work 
was more limited than it might have been under more flexible 
conditions. At one time the press was of great service in print- 
ing the reading lessons for the younger children. Developments 
in later progressive schools have shown that carried out in the 
same way in which other occupations in the school were pur- 
sued, printing might have been an absorbing interest and of 
great educational value. 

The group was active in school clubs and in the club-house 
project. The Educational Club was under the special guidance 
of these children. It started out with fine spirit the last year of 
the school. The constitution of the club allowed any member 
of the school to become a member, and several new names were 
voted on. A committee was appointed to attend to the finances 
of the club-house and to confer with an adviser to consider the 
best method of raising the money for it. A pew president", secre- 
tary, and treasurer were elected. The club then voted to take 
charge of the Friday afternoon exercises of the school. A com- 
mittee of three members was appointed for this purpose. The 
children voted to have a general adviser, and a teacher was ap- 
pointed. At a special meeting the Monday before Thanksgiving, 
the club decided to raise the dues of dub members to twenty- 
five cents a month until the house was paid for. They also 
formed an athletic department, and the president appointed 
a committee of three to decide definitely on the work of this 



The weekly general assembly of the older children on Friday 
afternoon of each week was always a social occasion and was 
usually directed by the older groups. In the beginning, one of 
the girls read a story of her own composition. The children 
were then asked to bring in suggestions for programs. One 
offered to have a friend come and play the piano. A girl of- 
fered the play that she had been writing, volunteering to select 
the actors and actresses and drill them in it. They all voted to 
ask Professor Judson of the University to come to talk about the 
trouble in China, requesting that they be allowed to ask all the 
questions they wished. Extracts from the records of some of 
these assemblies follow: 

At the general exercises held on the Wednesday afternoon before 
Thanksgiving, the children sang their songs of last year. Professor 
MacClintock read a Thanksgiving story Whittier's The Pumpkin. 
On another occasion, papers written by the children of the various 
groups on their class work were read. One read a long account of 
the conquest of Peru, another, an account of a series of experiments 
carried on in science during the fall. 

One week Mr. F gave a very informal talk to the children about 
his experiences in Cuba during the late war. The children were so 
much interested that they stayed half an hour afterwards asking 
questions. In February Mr. Jenkin Lloyd Jones was invited to talk 
on the subject of Lincoln. He accepted the invitation and entertained 
them for half an hour with stories illustrating Lincoln's character- 

At the next meeting the children celebrated Washington's birth- 
day, Group IX prepared the program, in which each child had a part. 
One played the boyhood of Washington; another, his school-days; 
another, his part in the French and Indian War; Washington in the 
Revolution; Washington as president; and Washington at home. One 
girl said that she knew several stories of Washington which did not 
come under any of these heads, so she wrote and read a paper on 
"Incidents in the life of Washington." On this occasion they worked 
together as a class better than ever before. Another afternoon 
Miss Harmer talked to the children on the Horace Mann School, 
and they asked many questions and seemed interested in the subject. 
At the next assembly Dr. Coulter gave a description of his trip to- 
the Yellowstone Park in 1870 when he went out with an expedition 


appointed by the government to explore the Wyoming geysers. On 
one occasion when a speaker failed to come, the children had an 
old-fashioned spelling contest, Groups IX and X doing themselves 
credit. On another, to which friends were invited, the program con- 
sisted of a German play, the composition of which had formed the 
basis of Group Vlll-fc's work for the winter quarter; in addition there 
were songs and English and French recitations. 

In the later years of the school the debating society became 
very active and frequently took charge of the assembly program. 
It was noticeable that a child speaking to children always got 
rapt attention, and judgment of points in a debate grew to be 
very discerning. All these weekly assemblies were productive 
of good results, but a great handicap was the lack of an audi- 
torium and any stage facilities. 

The boys and girls of Group XI were divided for their music 
periods. The latter sang well and with much enthusiasm. Sight 
singing was emphasized, and they learned Schumann's "The 
Wanderer/' Schubert's "Haiden Roslein" (in German) by note 
and spent a large portion of their time in writing a long two- 
part song which they notated on the board and copied. The 
boys of the group, having completed the work on key and time 
signatures, were told that unless they wished to sing, there was 
nothing further to do, for them, in music. 8 They responded to 
this by suggesting that they write a song and chose as a topic 
"La Journee" such as they had seen described in their recent 
study of Ivanhoe in a literature course. 9 The words finished, 
they were at a loss for the music, and finally decided that the 
teacher had better write it. Accordingly, she put a phrase of 
music on the board which they proceeded to change by telling 
on what line or space each note should be placed. They then 
listened to and criticized the result. In this manner the song 
was completed. The three older groups were allowed to learn 
it They were then to invite the composers to chorus practice 
and sing it for them. The latter, however, were not pleased 
with the result, saying the voices were too high to do justice 
to the song, and finally decided to learn to sing it themselves. 

s May Root Kern, teacher. 
Mrs. Lander P. MacClintock. 


This they did and, finding they could, continued to sing for 
the rest of the quarter. 

The work in the art studio centered around the furnishing 
and decorating of the now competed club-house. All the groups 
o the school had been drawn into interested participation in 
the final touches on the cherished project, but the older groups 
designed and made most of the furniture, hangings, and rugs. 
At various times the center of activity shifted from the studio to 
the science laboratory for experimentation on vegetable dyes 
(aniline dyes were viewed with scorn) or for the right mixture 
of stain for the woodwork; again the carpentry shop was sought 
out for some necessary construction of wood or metal; or it was 
back to the textile studio for sewing and embroidery of the 
curtains, or weaving the rugs already planned and designed. 
Through all these activities ran the artistic motive a genuine 
longing that the house and all that was to be put therein should 
be beautiful and appropriate. Interest and effort harnessed as a 
team, driven by genuine desire that sprang from genuine need, 
accomplished results of real quality. Although skilled guidance 
was at hand and irremediable errors were not permitted, the 
children had great freedom in directing their project. Naturally 
many mistakes were made, some of which took much time and 
hard labor to correct, but which taught much otherwise never 
learned. The groups primarily responsible for the project had 
organized themselves into various executive committees. The 
committee on house decoration decided in favor of a dark 
stain (then in vogue) for the woodwork of the house and, in 
spite of the advice of those guiding the work, carried their idea 
through. They were much criticized by the rest for the gloomy 
effect of their choice, a criticism some of them recall to this 


The little house when finished represented the best thought 
and genuine interest as well as labor of many children, and it 
grew out of genuine need. Its construction and decoration had 
been guided by skilled persons, interested in helping the chil- 
dren to conceive and achieve their ideals, and in the process to 


learn to judge and critically evaluate their own results. With 
these older children, as with all the groups in the school, the 
motives for art expressions sprang out of other activities and 
thus held vital relations for the children. The ideal of the 
school was that skill in the technique of artistic expression 
should keep pace with the children's intellectual concepts of 
the way they wished to refine, adorn, or represent in line, color, 
or day the thing they were making. This was an ideal difficult 
to attain and more often than not failed of achievement. That 
it was achieved, in a measure, in art, in music, and to a still 
more limited degree in drama was a real achievement for those 
in charge. These were pioneer days, and previous attempts to 
cultivate artistic quality of expression from the kindergarten 
to the studio were quite unknown. Since these early days great 
progress has been made in the teaching of the musical and those 
representative activities usually called the fine arts. There is 
great value in this type of activity for securing freedom of ex- 
pression and joyous creative effort. For the child this is what 
might be called consummatory experience. 

In justice it should be said that at all times the experiment 
was much hampered by its limited quarters and equipment. Be- 
cause of the lack of library and laboratory facilities especially, 
many of the things done with the three older groups were second 
choices as to subject-matter. The very nature of the school also 
made it necessary for the children to concentrate under difficult 
conditions of noise and interruption. This was not conducive 
to the development of the habit of consecutive study necessary 
to the best expression of individual thought in language or in 
any other medium. Lack of a library, lack of quiet, lack of 
beauty, lack of adequate space for club meetings, all made it 
impossible to carry out many individual and group plans. 
As was stated at the time, 10 "It was never practically possible 
to act adequately upon the best ideas obtained, because of 
administrative difficulties, due to lack of funds, difficulties cen- 
tering in the lack of a proper building and appliances and in 
inability to pay the amounts necessary to secure the complete 

10 John Dewey, "Psychology of the Elementary Curriculum," Elementary 
School Record, Vol. i, No. 9. 


time of teachers in some important lines. Indeed, with the 
growth of the school in numbers and in the age and maturity 
of the pupils, it was always a grave question how long it was 
fair to the experiment to carry it on without more adequate 

Although the school had a number of children who were 
finishing the third stage of growth of the elementary period, 
it was not in existence long enough so that many typical in- 
ferences as to results for this period could be safely drawn. There 
did seem reason to hope, however, that with the consciousness 
of difficulties, needs, and resources gained in the experience 
of five years, children can be brought to and through this 
period not only without sacrifice of thoroughness, mental dis- 
cipline, and command of the technical tools of learning, but 
also with a positive enlargement of life, and a wider, freer, 
and more open outlook upon it. 

At least it can be said that at fourteen these children had the 
background of an unusually wide first-hand experience upon 
which to base their more technical study, not only of artistic 
forms and appreciations, but of all forms of knowledge, whether 
scientific or practical, that had come within the range of their 
activities. Where these experiences had taken root in the good 
soil of native aptitudes, tendrils of intellectual and spiritual ap- 
preciations of beauty of color, line, and form, of harmony and 
rhythm, of ethical, social, and moral values and responsibilities 
were reaching out, searching for the light of broader oppor- 
tunities. They represented permanently rooted motives and 
vocational interests which, given a chance, would grow into 
continuing purposes and well-planned social action. This was 
by no means true of all the children who had come through the 
processes of the school. It possibly was true only of a very few, 
but it is not too much to hold that what was accomplished gave 
those who had eyes to see and ears to hear faith to believe 
that here lay the way of an education that was also the way of 
developing life. 




the school, education was recognized as a maturing proc- 
ess, in which the young child grows in body and mind and in 
ability to handle himself in his physical environment and in 
his social relationships. The conditions for healthy bodily 
growth had long been recognized, but the idea that power to 
think depends upon the healthy growth and proper function- 
ing of the mechanism of thought and its expression was, at 
that time, quite new. The bearing upon education of psycho- 
logical science as a study of this mechanism, and of the condi- 
tions that minister to and promote its normal development in 
mental power and intelligent action was still for the most part 

Two psychological assumptions of the school's hypothesis, 
basic to its theory and controlling its practices, were radically 
different from those that underlay the prevalent educational 
theory and practice. The first of these recognized a psychologi- 
cal and biological distinction between the child and the adult, 
as a result of which it is neither physiologically nor mentally 
possible to describe children as "little men and women." The 
adult is a person with a calling and position in life. These place 
upon him specific responsibilities which he must meet. They call 
into play formed habits. The child's primary calling is growth. 
He is forming habits as well as using those already formed. He is, 
therefore, absorbed in making contacts with persons and things 
and in getting that range of acquaintance with the physical and 
ideal factors of life which should be the background and afford 
the material for the specialized activities of later life. Recogni- 



tion of this difference, therefore, conditioned the selection and 
arrangement of all school materials and methods in order to 
facilitate full normal growth. It also required faith in the re- 
sults of growth to provide the power and ability for later spe- 

The second assumption was that the conditions which make 
for mental and moral progress are the same for the child as for 
the adult. For one, as for the other, power and control are 
obtained through realizing personal ends and problems, through 
personal choosing of suitable ways and means, and through 
adapting, applying and thereby testing what is selected in ex- 
perimental and socially acceptable action. 


The studies in the curriculum, the physical and social set- 
up of the school building and classrooms, the type of equip- 
ment, and the method of instruction all had to be chosen with 
the idea of die growing child in mind. His changing interests 
and needs and his ideally increasing power to act, to initiate, 
to judge, and to accept responsibility for the consequences of 
his action had to be considered. In selecting studies, it was ac- 
cepted that a child's present living contains within itself ele- 
ments, facts, and truths of the same sort as those that enter into 
the various formulated studies such as geography or other 
sciences. To constantly develop the possibilities inherent in the 
child's immediate crude experience was an important problem 
of the curriculum. It was also recognized as more important, 
that the attitudes, motives, and interests of the growing child 
are identical with those that operate in developing and organiz- 
ing the subject-matter of these studies. In other words, spe- 
cialized studies were thought of as outgrowths of present 
forces that are operating in the child's life. The problem of 
instruction was to help the child discover for himself the steps 
that intervene between his present experience and these or- 
ganized and classified bodies of facts known as chemistry, 
physics, history, geography, etc. Subject-matter was not thought 
of as something fixed and ready-made in itself, outside the 


child's experience; nor was the child's experience thought of 
as hard and fast, but as something fluent, embryonic, vital. 

1 "The child and the curriculum are simply two limits which 
define a single process. Just as two points define a straight line, 
so the present standpoint of the child and the facts and truths 
of studies define instruction. It is a continuous reconstruction, 
moving from the child's present experience out into that repre- 
sented by the organized bodies of truth that we call studies. 

"On the face of it, the various studies, arithmetic, geography, 
language, botany, etc., are themselves experience they are that 
of the race. They embody the cumulative outcome of the 
efforts, the strivings, and the successes of the human race, genera- 
tion after generation. They present this, not as a mere accumu- 
lation, not as a miscellaneous heap of separate bits of experi- 
ence, but in some organized and systematic way that is, as 
reflectively formulated. 

"Hence, the facts and truths that enter into the child's pres- 
ent experience and those contained in the subject-matter of 
studies are the initial and final terms of one reality." 

Specialized studies are the systematized and defined experi- 
ence of the adult mind. While not parts of the immediate life 
of the child, they define and direct the movement of his activi- 
ties. They are far-away objectives, but are, nevertheless, of 
great importance, for they supply the guiding method in deal- 
ing with the present. As part of the experience of the adult mind 
of the teacher, they are of indispensable value in interpreting 
the child's present life and in guiding or directing his activi- 
ties. Interpretation of the present in terms of the past for use 
in future activities, and guidance in the performance of these 
activities are the two essential elements in the instruction 

2 "To interpret a fact is to see it in its vital movement, to see 
it in its relation to growth. But to view it as a part of a normal 
growth is to secure the basis for guiding it. Guidance is not ex- 

ijohn Dewey, The Child and the Curriculum (Chicago, University of 
Chicago Press, 1902). 
2 Op. cit. 


ternal imposition. It is freeing the life-process for its own most 
adequate fulfilment" 


It was necessary to keep in mind that the various stages of a 
child's growth are transitional, blend into one another, and 
over lap. His present experience is but an index of certain 
growth-tendencies. It cannot be isolated from his developing 
experience. His development is a definite process having its 
own law which can be fulfilled only when adequate and normal 
conditions are provided. 

The teacher's part in this coming-to-maturity process is that 
of interpreter and guide as the child reenacts, rediscovers, and 
reconstructs his experience from day to day. The teacher sets 
the stage for the moving drama of the child's life, supplies the 
necessary properties when needed, and directs the action both 
toward the immediate goal of the child and also toward the 
direction of that far-away end which is clear in her mind, but 
as yet unseen by the child. 

It was essential that the activties selected for a school life 
providing this sort of growing experience should be, first of all, 
basic; that is, those that provide for fundamental needs such 
as food, clothing, or shelter. Such activities are genuine and 
timeless. Their reality excites the interest of the child and en- 
lists his effort, for they are what his elders do, have done, and 
must continue to do. 

In the second place especially for young children these ac- 
tivities should be simple. The early modes of occupations and 
industries when primitive tools and machines were used such 
as the child can rediscover, reinvent, and reconstruct or the 
present small, general farm furnish activities that are both 
interesting to the child and within his constructive powers. 
They also introduce the child to raw materials which must be 
made over by him into the finished product of his imagination. 
Fear of raw material has been a great handicap of the educa- 
tional past, in the laboratory, in the manual training shop, the 
Montessori House of Childhood, the Froebelian Kindergarten. 


The demand has been for ready-made toys and materials, which 
other minds and hands or machines have produced. This is 
true in academic book-learning as well as in the subject-matter 
of active occupations. It is true that such material will control 
the child's operations so as to prevent mistakes, but the idea 
that a child using such materials will somehow achieve without 
effort the intelligence that originally shaped or stated this ma- 
terial is false. 

Furthermore, these activities are not merely things a child 
is interested in doing; they typify social situations and involve 
the relationships which he can feel and understand. A child 
can no more enter into or understand the present social organi- 
zation without experiencing the simpler stages of living than 
he can appreciate a musical symphony without having shared 
in the simpler forms of music. Man's fundamental common con- 
cerns center about food, clothing, and shelter, household fur- 
nishings and the appliances connected with production, ex- 
change and consumption. They represent both the necessities 
of life and the -adornments and luxuries with which necessities 
have been amplified. They tap instincts at deep levels. They 
are full of facts and principles having scientific, social, i. e., 
moral qualities and implications. Gardening, weaving, con- 
struction in wood, manipulation of metals, cooking, etc., have 
much more than a bread-and-butter value, and it is for educa- 
tion to reveal their scientific implication and social worth. Gar- 
dening gives an approach to knowledge of the place farming 
and horticulture have had in the history of the race and which 
they occupy in the present social organization. Scientifically 
controlled gardening thus becomes the means for studying facts 
of growth, chemistry of soil, r61e of light, air, and moisture, etc., 
or elementary botany. These facts are thus seen as a part of 
life and have intimate correlations with facts about soil, animal, 
and human life. As the child matures he himself discovers prob- 
lems of interest which he will want to pursue and thus pass 
over into more and more adult intellectual investigations. 

When the subject-matter of the elementary curriculum is 
made up of these play and work activities, a child becomes 
familiar, during his formative period, with many aspects of 


knowledge in relation to living. With increasing maturity he 
sees how the sciences gradually grow out from useful occupa- 
tions, physics out of the use of tools and machines, chemistry 
out of processes of dyeing, cooking, metal smelting, etc. Mathe- 
matics is now a highly abstract science. Geometry, however, 
means literally earth-measuring. The use of number to keep 
track of things is far more important to-day than when it was 

8 "The most direct road for elementary students into civics 
and economics is found in the consideration of the place and 
office of industrial occupations in social life." 

Furthermore, social occupations of this fundamental type 
enable the child to discover and become skilled in the use of 
the scientific method. They lead his thought and experimental 
action farther and farther afield. Concrete experiences in living 
and discovering as he lives, multiply. Horizons lift. Possibilities 
beckon. Skills improve. Knowledge put to use becomes wis- 
dom, the woof of the web of living. What has proved helpful in 
a number of situations is drawn off (abstracted) and used in 
others. Abstraction thus becomes an instrument for intelligent 
action by which useful knowledge is fed into experience. Facts 
of knowledge are enlarged in significance, are seen in their 
human as well as their physical, technical or economic aspects. 
Little by little the social becomes identified with the moral in- 

This sort of growing experience was possibly best illustrated, 
in the school, in those groups of children who followed from 
the beginning the steadily developing course in cooking which 
was part of the program of all the elementary years. Year after 
year, as they cooked their luncheons, they tested their foods- 
cereals, vegetables, meats for the presence of starch, proteins, 
fats, and other constituents. At the end of this continued course, 
in making a summary of these years of experimenting, great 
was the children's delight to find that they themselves could 
classify all foods ("a great number") into three great classes, 
in accord with the presence or absence in varying degree of 

sjohn Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York, The Maonillan 
Co., 1916), p. 336. 


carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Without knowing it, by suc- 
cessive, carefully interpreted, and guided steps, they had come 
to a realization that their kitchen was a laboratory, and that a 
certain phase of their cooking was a study of the chemistry of 
food. Thus appreciation grew of the efforts of the past which 
had given them a heritage of finesse in the science and art of 


In an article, "The Place of Manual Training in the Ele- 
mentary Course of Study," Mr. Dewey summarized six years' 
experimentation with the school program and these types and 
groupings of subject-matter. He placed the studies under three 
heads, finding this arrangement both clarifying and of some 
philosophic value. In the first group are those which are not 
so much studies as active pursuits or occupations, modes of ac- 
tivity, play and work, which appeal to the child for their own 
sake and yet lend themselves to educative ends. This sort of 
play and work gives the pupil command of a method of in- 
quiry and experimental action, leads to inventive and creative 
effort and gradually to an understanding of the abstract sci- 
ences. In the second group is the subject-matter which gives 
the background of social life, including history and geography, 
history as the record of what has made the present forms of as- 
sociated life what they are, geography as the statement of the 
physical conditions and theatre of man's social activities. In the 
third group are the studies which give the pupil command of 
the forms and methods of intellectual communication and in- 
quiry, understanding inquiry to include science as the organ 
of social progress. Such studies as reading, grammar, and the 
more technical modes of arithmetic are the instrumentalities 
which the race has worked out as best adapted to further dis- 
tinctively intellectual interests. The child's need of command 
of these, so that, using them freely for himself, he can ap- 
propriate the intellectual products of civilization, is so obvious 
that they constitute the bulk of the traditional curriculum. Mr. 
Dewey points out that in the more advanced stages of educa- 
tion it may be desirable to specialize these subjects in such a 


way that they lose this direct relationship to social life, but in 
elementary education he finds that they are valuable just in 
the degree in which they are treated as furnishing the social 
setting or background of life. 

* "Along the lines of these three groups there is a movement 
away from direct personal and social interest to its indirect and 
remote forms. The first group represents to the child the same 
sort of activities that occupy him directly in his daily life, and 
with which he is thoroughly familiar. The second group is still 
social, but gives the background rather than the direct reality 
of associated life. The third group such studies as reading and 
grammar and the various forms of arithmetic is also social, 
not in itself or in any of its immediate suggestions and associa- 
tions, but because of its ultimate motives and effects. The pur- 
pose of these latter is to maintain the continuity of civiliza- 


In the school, the studies of the first group included all plays 
and games, the forms of bodily exercise usually classified as 
physical culture, and the various kinds of manual training or 
constructive work. There were also a variety of school resources 
not usually included under this head, such as the out-of-door 
excursions, and much of the more active observational and ex- 
perimental work in nature study. In the latter, it was not so 
much the objective facts, much less the scientific laws, that con- 
cerned the child, as it was the direct manipulation of materials 
and the application of simple forms of energy to produce in- 
teresting results. Wide use was made of the various kinds of 
activities belonging to this first group of studies with children 
of all ages. It was recognized that physical activity, the use of 
the bodily organs, is a large part of whatever interests and 
absorbs a child. 

A sound body is a first concern for normal, wholesome growth* 
Consequently, the play and physical culture program of the 
school was the result of much thought and careful planning. 

* John Dewey, "The Place of Manual Training in the Elementary Course 
of Study," Manual Training Magazine, Vol. II, No. 4 (July, 1901). 


Even with the older children, because of the active life carried 
on at all times, the gymnasium was not thought of as a place 
to exercise; it was, rather, a place to play in when the weather 
did not permit play outdoors. It was also the place to deal with 
the particular weaknesses of children, either as groups or as 
individuals. A teacher of physical culture in charge of the work 
for a time describes the work with the various groups: 5 

The work with the young children (Groups I, II, III, ages 4-6) 
was confined chiefly to marching steps, when posture and rhythm 
were emphasized. Games came next, in which running played a large 
part. These served to develop the child's ability to coordinate and 
control himself, and prepare him for more difficult games requiring 
alertness, dexterity and strength. ... It was some time before they 
learned how to playhow to follow rules and regulations and restrain 
their whole-hearted eagerness, and it still seems a question, after 
some months of xvork with all ages, as to how soon regular gymnastic 
work should begin with the younger children. The educational value 
of systematic games and plays for children under eight or nine years 
is far greater. These, however, should be developed systematically, 
from the simpler to the more complex, and would then be a great 
factor in developing the child's sense of coordination and control. 
This after all is the main object of physical training. 

With the older groups (IV and V) more stress was laid on correct 
posture and regular gymnasium work. The plays, a great proportion 
of them ball games, were made more and more difficult, thus re- 
quiring increased coordination and self-control. Drills took up part 
of the time, the length of the drill increasing with their capacity, 
and some apparatus work had a marked effect upon the standing 
position of the children. Each week, fifty minutes was spent on 
gymnastic drill, forty to fifty on games, and twenty minutes on 
marching, running, and similar exercises. 

The children of Group VIII spend much time learning to work to- 
gether. Through their games a great deal was accomplished toward 
promoting a class spirit, and a certain amount of cooperation in then* 
sports was soon noticed, especially when one part of the class was 
pitted against the other. Added to this there was a dawning realiza- 
tion that in order to win, it was not so much what each individual 
did that counted, but what they did as a whole. With the coming 
of warm weather, baseball revived, and both boys and girls were 
enthusiastic about it. The boys organized a team, elected officers, 
collected dues to pay for the outfit, and began practice. The girls 
took up fencing. 

3 dark Peterson, Head of Department of Physical Culture, 1900-1903. 


In Group X (age 13) the emphasis was laid on posture, and a 
visible improvement in the carriage and general control of the body 
was noticed, which seemed to show that more should be done in the 
way of applied gymnastics. 

So many of the school's activities involved the child's whole 
body in such a controlled way that he developed physically as 
well as mentally. As before stated the limitations of the school's 
equipment and environment and financial resources handi- 
capped the amount of dramatic and rhythmic expression im- 
portant to a well-rounded development. 

In the spring of 1900 the bad posture of many children re- 
sulted in a plan to give each child a thorough examination for 
physical defects. The age at which such an examination would 
be of help seems to have been discussed thoroughly. Some 
specialists held that, as the percentage of children under eight 
years with slight spinal deviations is great, such examinations 
under that age would be impracticable. The records show that 
all the children above Group III (age six) were individually 
examined. Of the forty-three girls, slight spinal curvatures were 
discovered in twenty; three cases seemed serious; seven were 
in poor physical condition irrespective of spinal curvatures. 
Fifty boys were examined; thirteen were found to have spinal 
curvatures; five cases were serious; and twelve were in poor 
physical condition. The examination was a rigid one, and 
all the slight deviations of the spine were noted, which ac- 
counts for the large number of curvatures. The cases were re- 
ported to the parents, and when necessary, special exericse was 
advised. The general conclusion was that a curvature is not a 
normal condition at any age and needs remedial measures. 

In planning the program, preference was given to those 
physical activities which gave additional control over the child's 
whole organism through enlisting his social interest in the end 
or purpose of the activity, whether climbing a ladder, walking 
a beam gracefully, or playing a game well. The ulterior pur- 
pose of the teacher, however, was the development in the child 
of control, skill, quick thinking, and social attitudes. It is 
scarcely necessary to add that an essential element in all this 
health promotion program, and one recognized by all the de- 


partments of the school, was the intelligent cooperation of the 
child himself through his interest in what contributed to his 
own well-rounded development and the proper functioning of 
his bodily organs. The place on each group 's program for the 
periods of free bodily movement and play was planned with 
reference to the type of work that preceded and followed it, 
but the test of a satisfactory period of play and physical exercise 
was a quiet, poised, happy child. Such a child went to his next 
class with a contented spirit, ready and interested to enter into 
the work. 

The department of physical education in this school never 
fully carried the finer extensions of its meanings to their ex- 
pression in the art of rhythmic movement as now developed 
in the esthetic and interpretative dance. In the last year of the 
school, after it had moved into the School of Education build- 
ings, and there was adequate and suitable space for such experi- 
mentation, the first steps toward such a development were 

Many of the activities of this first group of studies are part 
of daily life and minister to daily needs, such as the buying and 
preparation of food, the making of clothing, and the construc- 
tion of shelter. They represent to a young child the familiar 
and yet mysterious and, therefore, intensely interesting things 
that adults do. They are the present; they suggest the past, 
and point to the future. They thus provide a thread of con- 
tinuity in any situation, at any time, which links the child to 
his present no matter how far afield he may have gone imagina- 

6 "No one any longer doubts the educational value of the 
training of hand and eye and, what is of greater importance, of 
hand and eye coordination. Nor is it necessary any longer to 
argue the fact that this training of hand and eye is also directly 
and indirectly a training of attention, constructive and repro- 
ductive imagination, and power of judgment. For many years 
the manual training movement has been greatly facilitated by 

e John Dewey," The Place of Manual Training in the Elementary Course 
of Study," The University Record, Vol. I, No. 32. (Address by Mr. Dewey 
before the Pedagogical Club, October 31, 1896.) 


its happy coincidence with the growing importance attached in 
psychological theory to the motor element. The old emphasis 
upon the strictly intellectual elements, sensations and ideas, 
has given way to the recognition that a motor factor is so 
closely bound up with the entire mental development that the 
latter cannot be intelligently discussed apart from the former. 
Even more necessary in present-day society is the social under- 
standing gained by every child who shares, emotionally as well 
as actually, in all forms of physical labor. . . . 

"It is legitimate, therefore, to inquire whether there is not 
also something peculiarly appropriate upon the social side 
in demanding a considerable part in elementary education for 
this group of activities. We must go even deeper in our con- 
ception of the educational position of these activities. We ought 
to see where and how they not only give formal training of 
hand and eye, but lay hold of the entire physical and mental 
organism, give play to fundamental aptitudes and instincts, and 
meet fundamental organic necessities. It is not enough to 
recognize that they develop hand and eye, and that this de- 
velopment reacts favorably into the physical and mental 
development. We should see what social needs they spring out 
of and what social values, what intellectual and emotional 
nutriment they bring to the child which cannot be conveyed 
as well in any other way. . . . 

"A child is attentive to what relates to his activities, in other 
words, to what interests him; hence the senses get their stimulus 
from the motor side, from what the child wishes to do. It is not 
necessary to make up a set of stimuli to hold his attention or 
to get him interested when he is using the saw or plane. His 
senses are on the alert, since he must use them to do something. 
This is the psychological reason for beginning with the child's 
activities. On the social side they introduce him to the world 
of human relationships; on the individual side they reveal him 
to himself as a factor in those relations." 

The carpentry shop of the school was one of its main labora- 
tories. The work there brought the children into relation with 
the occupations of the outside world. The study of the source 
of the materials for this work led the children to many coun- 


tries; its tools and methods were linked to past ways and means, 
inventions and discoveries. These activities led to study of the 
sciences, of physics as the study of applied energy and of the 
methods of commerce and distribution. Much of the construc- 
tive work which was necessary and related to the development 
of the major activities of all the groups was carried on in the 
shop. For a number of years the head of the carpentry shop con- 
tributed more than many others to the worth of this form of 
manual training in the school's curriculum. From his experi- 
ence he claims for manual training, as for all other occupations 
in the school, that it is not just an attempt to teach a child a 
trade, but is a part of the whole educational process. 

7 Because we teach a child to saw or plane, it does not follow that 
we expect the child to be a carpenter. What we do wish is to make 
the child think to question to wonder. One day a child was push- 
ing a plane straight on a piece of wood and remarked to his neighbor 
how hard the plane worked. The small boy thus addressed said: "If 
you put your plane so (showing how to place the plane at an angle 
and yet be perfectly level with the edge of the board) it will work 
easier/' When questioned why it worked more easily, he said it was 
because all of the plane was not on the board at once. The child, 
knowing almost nothing of friction, had discovered its principle in a 
concrete applied case, through his own efforts and experimentation. 

It is more and more commonly recognized that the best place for 
manual training is in the lower grades, that the child gets more 
from it between the ages of four and fourteen than afterwards. Girls 
profit just as much as boys from this training in the early grades and 
are often as expert and more painstaking. . . . 

Number work is an important skill and is closely allied to the 
shop-work. Even the making of a simple box calls for a variety of 
processes. In laying out the five or six parts of a box from a long 
piece of wood, multiplication and division of inches and fractions 
of an inch must be used. Subtraction of fractions enters into the 
cutting of the ends to fit the sides of the box. Addition of inches and 
fractions of inches is also brought out. In fact, there is no part of 
manual training that does not use the number processes, and mental 
arithmetic in various forms is often necessary. . . . Much of the 
work calls for practical geometry, and a set of small articles to help 
in demonstrating geometry was designed and made by the children, 
including protractors, squares bisected diagonally and cut to make 

T Frank H. Ball, "Manual Training," The Elementary School Record, 
Vol. I, No. 7. 


forty-five degree triangles, certain forms to demonstrate kinds of 
angles and to show that opposite angles are equal . . . 

In building the club-house, from the carpenter's point of view, 
many ideas new to the children were brought out. They were in- 
terested to find that in house construction as in textile work, we have 
warp and filling, and that we tie the parts to give strength. The vari- 
ous types of joints were discussed in detail, and models were made 
in the shop. The bill of lumber for the house involved much cal- 
culation and use of number processes. The number of feet of floor- 
ing, of drop-siding, the number of square feet to be covered by 
shingles, the number and length of rafters, sills, and corner posts 
were all calculated by the children. . . . 

It has been said, "Manual Training is a distinct branch of educa- 
tion/' Such is not the case. It is part of the whole education of the 
child, and by working in harmony with the other departments it 
becomes more so. ... None of the other branches of the school lose 
dignity because they are made to dovetail into the other subjects. 
Why should manual training? Weaving is more interesting to chil- 
dren because they can make their own looms and spindles in the 
shop, and the shop work is more interesting because they can use 
their own products. History does not become dull because they have 
made in miniature the same things the people they have been study- 
ing about made. They encounter and appreciate the difficulties that 
primitive peoples met with, and understand better the labor and 
cost that has gone into the comforts and conveniences of the present. 
When a group of children came last year with eager faces and asked 
if they might make backs for the thermometer bulbs they had just 
finished in the science department, to them the shop-work was 
of vital importance for there they could make an essential part of 
those thermometers. Without the back it would have beeen simply 
a glass tube, filled with mercury. . . . 

This correlation of manual training with other departments is in 
a state of evolution and will not be accomplished in one year, nor 
by one man. The results must be accomplished by the cooperation 
of all the teachers. When the group teacher submits articles necessary 
in her work and the manual training teacher helps the children to 
put them into form, bringing out in the process the principles of 
construction, elements of geometry or of tool practice which the child 
needs, good results will be reached. Formal number work is put to 
the test of practical use in the shop, and in countless other ways too 
numerous to mention, the work of the shop is a part of the complete 
whole. 8 

8 Mr. Ball found that ordinary tools were much too heavy for the younger 
children. He planned and had made a lighter set of tools most frequently 
used, consisting of a hack-saw, chisel, plane, claw-hammer, and a special 


Playing house or building houses and playing at house- 
keeping in them, after the manner of peoples being studied 
by the class, were constantly recurring activities of interest 
to each age in turn. The four- and five-year-olds built houses 
of blocks and then of boxes or cardboard and furnished them 
to take home. Much of the constructive work of the children in 
Groups I and II was carried on in their own room. When they 
came to work with wood, however, the need for skilled direc- 
tion sent them to the carpenter shop for help. One year a group 
of eight-year-old boys, of their own choice and on their own 
initiative, constructed a large playhouse for the younger chil- 
dren to paint and furnish. Even at this self-centered age the 
pleasure of working for the kindergarten children carried them 
through the continued effort necessary to complete the house, 
to roof it properly, and to leave it in shape for the younger 
children to finish. 

In the succeeding years of their school life, as they relived 
the story of developing civilization, the children studied the 
housing people of early times had found suitable to various 
physical environments. Some of the projects proved too long 
and repetitious to be worth while. Others were most successful 
and led the children on into further and related undertakings. 
When Group VI (9 years) were studying the early settlement of 
Chicago, they undertook the construction of a model of Fort 
Dearborn. This proved a long and arduous term's work, but 
was finally carried through and completed on the last day 
of the quarter. The next year these same children by mutual 
agreement planned and furnished the inside of a colonial room. 

The building of the club-house, elsewhere described, was the 
peak-point in the development of the shelter activity program. 
What was accomplished seemed small even then in the light 
of what might have been done had there not been so many 
lacks in the way of equipment, time, and space. Its story, like 
that of any pioneering in any field, is the story of the blazing 
of a trail. It is difficult to tell in retrospect to what degree those 

saw-bracket. These, with the pencil-compass, were all used successfully 
by the lower grades. There were no serious accidents, and the children 
gained in strength, skill, and accuracy. 


children or teachers who participated in the project realized 
the possibilities for its extension into the fields of architecture 
and house decoration, and thence into the world of artistic 
values and spiritual meanings. 9 It remains to-day only a hint 
of what might be. 

The other activities used in the school were determined on 
the basis of what would be most constructive in broadening 
and deepening the child's daily experience into well-rounded 
wholes from which expression through language and other 
forms of communication would naturally evolve. Farming, 
forestry, pottery-making, basket-weaving, gardening, the smelt- 
ing of metals such as copper, tin, gold, silver, and many other 
activities carried on sometimes in miniature held the children's 
interest and gave them a keener appreciation of raw mate- 
rials, their sources and possibilities, the part they had played 
with peoples of the world, and their value in our present social 


Technique was not stressed with the younger children. With 
them the chief interest was in the process. If the result, how- 
ever faulty, served the purpose they had in mind, it satisfied 
them. Much of the meaning of the work in the graphic and 
auditory arts would have been lost if this had not been true. 
Painting in the early years is merely a putting on of color. 
If the surfaces of a box, a chair, the wall of a toy house, or just 
sheets of paper are thus covered, the end of the process, the ap- 
plication of color, for a little child, is a realized idea. He is ex- 
pressing in color his idea of grass, of sky, of a dog or a man. 
To enable him by helpful and timely direction to increase his 
skill that it might be proportionate to the growth of his idea 
was an ideal that taxed to the utmost the skill of the an 

9 An alumna of the school writes as follows: "The building of the dub- 
house, more than all the books I have read, than all the beautiful buildings 
I have seen, more than any other experience in my life, has helped me to 
see and appreciate architecture. I got far more out of helping with my 
own hands in this real and practical work than out of books." Josephine 
Crane (Mrs. H. C. Bradley). 


Little by little, also, in response to need, desire awoke for 
skill in the more difficult arts of communication, and activi- 
ties involving the use of the skills of reading, writing, or of 
commensurable numbers, took their place and time in the 
curriculum. Thus the list of the needful and useful activities 
of daily living multiplied. Their educational import became 
more and more apparent, demonstrated as it was, hour by 
hour, day by day, year by year. On the basis of this proof by 
practice of the educational and social value of activity, it is 
possible to draw certain generalizations which are in turn but 
a restatement of the original hypothesis. 

Social occupations such as these appeal to the interest and 
powers of little people and at the same time typify to them in 
simplified and understandable form the general kinds of social 
activity of their gradually enlarging world. Children willingly 
enter into the sort of activity that occupies the adults of their 
world, for they recognize that they are genuine and worthy of 
effort. Such activities are capable of the utmost simplification 
to suit the powers of any age; they can also be amplified and 
extended to meet increasing interests and growing powers. 
The stream of developing conscious life in a child thus occu- 
pied becomes, as it were, a solvent for the absorption of useful 
information. Interest and effort reenforce one another in the 
process of learning how to do with increasing skill the things 
which occupy his larger world and are always just ahead of 
him, luring him on to better individual effort to meet indi- 
vidual and social needs. 

The developing program thus opened up infinite possibili- 
ties for the extension of meanings. It aided the child to gain 
an intellectual constructiveness and a socialized disposition. 
The play of the first two years gradually took on the character 
of work, motivated as both were by the same social interest hi 
purposeful activity directed to desired ends. The only ap- 
preciable difference between the two was in the child's own 
idea of the larger result of his work. These occupations of both 
play and work became direct instrumentalities for the exten- 
sion of meaning. They became magnets for gathering and re- 
taining an indefinitely wide scope of intellectual considera- 


tions. They became avenues along which and by means of 
which the feeling, thinking, acting child grew into greater 
power, ability, and sympathetic understanding of himself in 
relation to his physical and social world; they led to the dis- 
covery of the spiritual quality of value that attaches itself to 
things that are of use and to relationships that are held dear. 

PART in 







N continuing the discussion of the school's curriculum, it 
is necessary to remember one of the tenets of its philosophy of 
growth, namely, that there must be steps in the development 
of all subject-matter comparable to the stages of growth in 
the experience of the child. The first knowledge that is im- 
portant to a child is power to do. The occupations and the 
arts, therefore, formed the initial stages of the curriculum, for 
they correspond to knowing how to go about the accomplish- 
ment of ends. 

This power to do, this familiarity with many things and 
activities, this acquaintance with skills and tools was constantly 
extended and deepened through communicated knowledge (or 
information) gleaned from the storehouses of the pastwhat 
man has done and where and how he has done it. To the de- 
gree that such information was organized by the child into 
his experience, was used by him to accomplish his construc- 
tion, to express his idea and thus attain his end, it became his 
own; it acted as a bridge for him to pass over from doubt to 
discovery, from failure to success. 

Scientific method was the constantly used tool not alone in 
the science laboratories. By common consent it was the method 
at all times and in all situations where processes and activities 
were such that active investigation, testing out of guesses or 
theories, imagining possible results of this or that physical or 
social relation could be carried on. Systematized facts and 
knowledge (commonly called scientific) were also made avail- 
able to the child. He was led by the teacher or through access 
to books to see their use in his activity and was taught how to 



lay hold of them as real aids in his construction or expression. 
Since the time of this experiment in education, an enormous 
amount of systematized, scientific knowledge has been made 
available. Largely through the labors of secondary school 
teachers, chemistry, physics, biology, etc*, are taught in favored 
normal schools and colleges in close connection with the 
processes of everyday life. The textbooks published for sec- 
ondary schools contain all details for successful performance 
of typical experiments. These can be easily rescaled for use 
by teachers of the elementary age. One of the main purposes 
of this chapter, therefore, is to point out the psychological and 
scientific grounds for wise choice of material for this age. The 
illustrations are chosen to show how the child can be helped 
to make a habit of forming generalizations helpful in the next 
step or steps of his plan or project. 


With a young child these generalizations begin as concrete 
groupings of objects by qualities. For example, he collects 
stones of certain color, size, or shape, according to his use for 
them in games such as skipping over water. This develops 
into grouping objects such as stones according to a character 
more often recognized as abstract, for example, according to 
their method of formation. The fact that sedimentary rock 
such as slate is flat rock becomes a conscious factor in the 
child's research for skipping stones. Igneous rocks (non- 
explosive) are chosen for building a fireplace. The child's pro- 
cedure, therefore, has passed from a color, size, or form group- 
ing to an abstract, geological classification according to method 
of the origin because that knowledge is of use in his activity. 


Such early play experiences are the kind a skilled teacher 
draws upon to verify and amalgamate new steps in the more 
advanced activities of a later study of man's use of the earth's 
rocks in making buildings, cements, plasters, paints, etc. In 


this later period of school life a child's power of abstraction takes 
on more and more adult form and grows to an appreciation and 
interest in the systematized fields of scientific knowledge such 
as geography, physiography, geology, biology, chemistry or 
physics. Heretofore, his experience has had, so to speak, a geo- 
graphical aspect, a historical or chemical aspect. Geographical, 
historical, or chemical facts were interesting and appreciated, 
not for their own sake, but largely because they were useful in 
his activity. With the growing adult point of view he develops 
interest in and appreciation of the value of organized and 
classified knowledge, again not for its own sake, but for its 
classification and organization for use in his more mature 
investigation and research. 

In the formative period of the elementary age these various 
aspects of knowledge must fit into the child's moving experi- 
ence as aids to his activities concerned with man's fundamental, 
needs. Geography, physiography, geology, etc., furnish facts 
about the earth which is man's home and the physical and 
chemical characteristics of the earth's surface, its formation 
and the laws of its forces are intimately related to life and 
living. Biology is the study of living things. A teacher con- 
stantly presents to the child such experience in the care of 
plants and animals that he comes to understand the conditions 
of growth, ultimately tracing the source of all life energy back 
to the sun. Through his interest in his own growth and his 
dependence on light, air, and food, he later comes to appreciate 
physiology as the study of the way the parts and organs of 
living things like himself function, and understands what 
balance and equilibrium in living must be maintained through 
hygienic habits of exercise, sleep, and food. The linking of the 
preparation and care of food with these topics insures a favor- 
able conditioning with respect to them that will survive 
throughout life. In the school, the facts of botany, zoology, and 
bacteriology were taught from the point of view of function 
and adaptation to environment. In such schooling the teacher 
is also experimenting in the sense that she cannot foretell in 
detail just what turn the children's immediate reaction will 
take. It is her office to see that the children, knowing what 


they want to do, are helped to solve their problems through 
recalling what had been helpful in their past experience. In 
the process she supplied the new vocabulary, symbols, or ap- 
paratus needed. 


The method of conducting all classes through the medium 
of conversation and free exchange of ideas resulted in a uni- 
form daily procedure which supplied the thread of continuity, 
for it linked the experience of previous days or weeks to the 
new or continued activity of the present. In all this activity, 
invention and discovery found their place. In all social situa- 
tions, the ideas formed by the group were tested in action. 
When necessary, suggestions were given of ways to act, but a 
margin of the unknown was always left which the child must 
try out and so face responsibility in his success or failure. An 
essential moral attitude, now called facing reality, was achieved 
by the child through manipulating, with varying degrees of 
success or failure, the brute facts of the material world, as he 
followed or developed his plan to attain a desired result. With 
growth in maturity the children came to have more and more 
remote ends and also became more conscious of what they 
did. Their group discussions were more detailed, and ex- 
periences of their own past more frequently leaped into con- 
sciousness. Children of six years remembered playing millers 
the previous year, but had forgotten what they did as millers. 
In dramatizing the mining industry they only wanted to be 
the miners who contributed coal to their own furnaces. They 
were not interested as to what determined the depth where 
coal was formed. To an alert teacher the questions asked in- 
dicate the amount of detail to be used at any age. In conse- 
quence, at six years there was no detailed experimentation 
with materials used in carrying out play. Each classroom was 
a social laboratory a place to experiment with ideas which 
carried a social import. The children tested the efficiency of 
these ideas by dramatic action. The teacher was stage director, 
furnishing the necessary data (how and where coal is really 


found, where forests grow, how men get the trees that furnish 
lumber), and when ideas were slack, prompting with sugges- 
tion as to ways and means or helping with her greater knowl- 
edge of technique. To some teachers it seemed wiser to cover 
a variety of occupations in this dramatic fashion because of 
the wide experience of the children with whom they dealt. 
With those of more limited experience, greater detail in carry- 
ing out a few occupations proved better adapted to the chil- 
dren's way of thinking. 1 When the children had acquired 
enough ease in the skills of communication and had reached 
the stage of written reports, records, and stories, experimenta- 
tion with language went on. Everywhere and at all times the 
teacher's knowledge helped the child to acquire the more 
formal ways of putting oral expression and inflection into 
written form. Punctuation was thus wedded to meaning. 
Dramatization proceeded in the same experimental way from 
the direct play of reenacting past situations to a definite aware- 
ness by the children of the need of preliminaries to enable 
them to convey their impressions of incident or character to 


A large part of the art of teaching is to give thinking its 
proper role as "a very present help in time of trouble" without 
letting the child become confused or discouraged by too large 
problems. The difficulties in choice of materials which chil- 
dren can successfully use were much lessened as the objective 
reactions of other teachers who had faced the same problems 
and had objectively analyzed the reasons for success or failure, 
became available. But always the value of individual experi- 
ence and experimentation, whether by child or teacher, fur- 
nished the necessary drive to further experimentation. The 
work which was definitely labeled scientific experimentation 

iThis field of experimentation for the teacher is still unlimited. The 
danger with most teachers seems to be that of embarking upon enterprises 
which require too much repetition of operations that require no thought 
to carry one step to the succeeding one, such as the building of a too com- 
plicated block-house or the wiring of a play city, in contrast to the wiring 
of a puppet theater. 


was always selected because of its social nature. The children's 
natural interest was thus made the spring-board to experi- 
mental action. With the older children, however, this developed 
into more and more conscious experimentation, primarily di- 
rected to the carrying out of their construction, but, with the 
ulterior purpose on the part of the teacher, of planting in her 
pupils' minds the beginning of fundamental scientific con- 
cepts. As these concepts were truly fundamental, they con- 
cerned practically everything attempted. 


The way in which these general ideas took form historically 
was found very helpful to the teacher in arranging conditions 
for the children's experiments and in choosing those experi- 
ences which would help them to understand and formulate 
definite physical and biological theories in later school years. 
In all cases man's relation to the physical environment, his 
control of its forces and resources, led to what may be described 
as a general scientific interest. The best illustration of such an 
enlarging interest was the way in which the child's idea of the 
earth's place in relation to the rest of the solar system de- 
veloped in spiral fashion, year after year. The history of 
mathematics deals first with the gropings of the past, and in 
them the teacher discovers how certain mathematical tools 
originated. He realizes that fundamental concepts have become 
familiar to the expert they are the first tools to his hand. He 
is, therefore, often quite unaware that the beginner cannot 
use these concepts intelligently unless they have been devel- 
oped in the process of individual solving of some practical con- 
struction difficulty. If the making of a simple pair of scales 
has been part of a child's early experience, his mathematics 
teacher can easily help him build the concept of an equation 
upon a balance in equilibrium, or of proportion upon the re- 
lation of gears. In later years in the more complicated but 
similar problem of the compound lever, the child will find 
the equation, here also, a useful tool. 

The multitudinous character of present-day knowledge and 


the complexity of its processes can only be ordered and singled 
out for educational purposes by sticking close to the idea that 
the facts which a child learns only grow into ideas (facts act- 
ing), knowledge, and wisdom by means of use in a consciously 
directed activity. In this school, therefore, scientific subject- 
matter, both as method and as an organized body of tested 
facts and concepts, was regarded as the child's means (in ex- 
perimental play) to a constant process of discovery and accom- 
plishment in all areas of his experience. This is but another 
name for learning. A brief summary of the science teacher's 
records of the work in science follows: 2 "The guiding prin- 
ciple, always of great help to a teacher selecting an activity 
for a course of study, was its use in carrying the child on to 
an understanding of larger relations. The test question about 
an activity always was were its processes such as would relate 
themselves in the child's mind, as he carried them out, to the 
great general ideas which represent the controlling factors of 
all natural processes. Of such general ideas, those summed up 
in what is called the law of the conservation of energy, the 
various forms of reversible and irreversible transformations of 
energy in the concepts of mass, motion, and momentum, are 
necessarily the most fundamental. ... In making this choice 
the teacher must be capable of seeing any process going on as 
a result of an interaction of forces which can be controlled by 
analysis, and which are subject to the same laws, no matter 
how outwardly unlike they appear in manifestation. The first 
force used by man, gravitation, illustrates the advantage gained 
through the use of such a concept. It is so continually and 
everywhere acting. Its very familiarity seems to have bred a 
contempt which has resulted in ignoring its possibilities edu- 
cationally. To introduce the child in a natural way to the 
idea underlying the familiar process of weighing as the process 
of measuring the pull of the earth is to give him a concept 
of force which is his intellectual birthright in this twentieth 
century. In the school, the identity of the notion of weight, 
which the child already possessed, with this pull or force which 

2 Katharine Camp, "The Place of General Ideas as Controlling Factors/' 
Elementary School Teacher, February, 1904. 


is acting upon him in common with all other things, and the 
idea of its control and measurement were developed from 
the very earliest years. . . . Anthropomorphic reasons for the 
changes which the child sees going on about him were scrupu- 
lously avoided. The causes of such changes were stated in terms 
of such forces or motions as the child already understood, or 
were not stated at all where such an explanation seemed im- 
possible. This was the first step toward a scientific attitude. 


"In his first cooking the experimenting child found, through 
his quantitative work with the various cereals, that bulk and 
weight are not synonymous terms. He further discovered that 
weight is the only standard by which he could find the amount 
of water needed for each kind of cereal. This is a great ad- 
vance. When he carries over this idea of the use of weight in 
the particular instance, that of finding the proper amount of 
water for his cereal, into its use as a universal measure he has 
made another step. He is then ready to gain some conception 
of the adaptation of this force to man's advantage such as in 
primitive uses of water power and falling weights. He is able 
to translate what he sees going on about him, the falling 
mountain-range, the grinding rocks rolled along by the spring 
floods as they tear away the land or the waves pounding on 
the shore, as other manifestations of this same force. When a 
child recognizes that the wave-motions in a small pond, where 
he directly controls their direction and amount, are the same 
in miniature as the wave-motion in lake or ocean, he is ready, 
though it may be in the form of but a dim feeling, to realize 
the motion of the earth as it sweeps him past the sun and stars 
by day and night. He can then intelligibly carry his notion 
of day and night and the revolution of the moon about the 
earth over into a comprehension of the yearly journey of the 
earth about the sun. He will seize with delight the notion of 
the circling planets as they, as well as the earth, revolve about 
the sun. The whirling top, the swinging pendulum, and the 


sling shot will then carry with them such association as will 
gradually build up a usable concept of force and motion. In 
the school, children of eight were able to develop a rational sys- 
tem of weights and measures through this notion of mass and 
bulk. Children of nine carried the same idea farther through 
some practical application of the principle of specific gravity. 

"The notion of the increase of force as proportional to the 
velocity of a moving mass comes very early in the experience 
of a running boy, and it is possible, with proper apparatus, 
early to clarify the concept of this force of impact as dependent 
upon velocity. Each child's experience contains vivid images 
of force embodied in a rapidly moving train, in a body falling 
from a great height, or of the increased danger in motor acci- 
dents due to acceleration of speed. Associated with these images 
is a vague idea that the force possessed by the train is related 
to the rate and that of the body to the height from which it 
has fallen. Or, again the ever-present interest of the child of 
nine or ten in the locomotive can readily be tunied by experi- 
ment into some idea of the relation of the mechanical energy 
of the train to the chemical energy stored in the fuel used. This 
can be further traced to the original source of that energy in 
the plants which form the coal. 

"On the biological side, in the school, observations of the 
effect of the force of gravity on plants and animals began in 
the kindergarten. The geotropism of roots, stems, and leaves 
is an especially good point for experimentation with five-, six-, 
and seven-year-old children and helps the child to a correct 
conception of the plant as a living thing, moving and growing 
under the same conditions as himself. The type of experi- 
ment, often given later, which shows the lifting power of 
germinating seed and the strength of the growing stem and 
shoot was also tried at this time. The very definite response 
with respect to posture of some of the lower animal forms to 
the force of gravitation was one of the earliest ways of helping 
the child to discriminate between the apparently voluntary and 
the involuntary motions of animals in his observation of lower 
forms of life. Later, an analysis of the more ordinary muscular 


movements was attempted to bring out the principle of use of 
the force involved. An analysis of locomotion was made to show 
that it is a continuous forward fall, in which the attitude of 
greatest security involves the principle of placing the center 
of gravity with reference to the base of support. . . . 

"Experiments which demonstrate the dependence of animal 
life upon vegetable and of vegetable life upon inorganic mate- 
rial were used to develop the fundamental conception of the 
dependence of all life on solar energy. The continual repeti- 
tion of such experiments year by year involved more and more 
analysis of the forces concerned." 

It is important to recognize that the great scientific develop- 
ment of the nineteenth century originated in the need for 
and development of an intelligent control of the processes of 
manufacture. This is the clue to the educational value of a 
study of the industrial processes. The interests of both child 
and teacher, however, must never center scientifically in the 
logical use and control of any one particular process. The scien- 
tific principle involved must be worked out not only for that 
process; it must be widely applied also and related by the child 
to the great natural forces which his tiny process parallels. 
Thus in consecutive years the child was helped to build up 
certain concepts of the character of solution. This was begun 
with a solution such as salt in water. In studying the various 
uses of salt in flavoring and preserving food the following 
ideas of solution were developed through the children's ob- 
servations, questions, and experiments. The first was always 
the disappearance of the solid in the liquid; that it was divided 
up evenly throughout the liquid; that it could be recovered 
by evaporating the liquid; that the weight of the solution was 
always equal to the sum of the liquid and the solid. They also 
learned some of the common tests for concentration in solu- 
tion such as the use of brine strong enough to float an egg. All 
their experiences in solution found use in the understanding 
of digestion as the process of making food soluble through the 
action of ferments so that it could pass through membranes 
into circulation and be made available to all the tissues. The 
passing through membranes was illustrated by simple experi- 


ments in osmosis. In their later study of plant and animal 
life many occasions arose for the use of this knowledge. 

The growth of this ability to liken causes, that of his own 
small experiment to that of a natural force and similarly to 
compare the effects of both, helps the child to recognize that 
the underlying principle of both is similar, and that it is also 
the principle which is essential to his desired end. He thus 
comes naturally into the possession of the scientific method 
which is the key to intellectual power in any field of knowl- 
edge. He will do this without divorcing the play of emotion, 
and color of feeling from his thinking. 

A science teacher in this school had to have at command a 
conception of the great general ideas of science, and of their 
function as the factor by which man controls the natural world 
before she was equipped to select material for a course of study 
in science with a group of elementary children. The type of 
scientific material chosen and the method of its teaching were 
always dependent upon the psychological age of the child. From 
this point of view two stages of development are recognized 
in the years of the elementary period, the one differentiated 
from the other by the child's growing ability to abstract con- 
sciously and, therefore, to formulate and classify. As this latter 
ability increases the child gradually enters the second stage o 
his development or growth the period of classification and 


3 The objection has been made that until the elementary 
period is passed, experimental work finds no place in the school 
curriculum, that science work, or nature study, should be ob- 
servational in method. The objection seems to hold only when 
experimentation is regarded from the adult point of view, as a 
basis for abstract formulation. When an experiment is used as 
an illustration and a form of expression, it becomes a means of 

a Much of the remainder of this chapter, except as indicated, is taken from 
an article by Katherine Camp, "Science in Elementary Education/* Ele- 
mentary School Record f September, 1900. 


utilizing and training the child's natural spirit of investigation, 
and the above objection loses force. Taken in connection with 
some social activity in which the child is engaged, experiments 
serve as valuable illustrations. They are simplifications of the 
complicated processes he has been observing. Any child who is 
allowed to play freely constantly constructs his own playthings. 
Soon he will be found freely experimenting with his materials 
and environment. It was found desirable to utilize this desire 
for expression through this kind of constructive activity, and 
experimental work was included in the curriculum with the 
youngest children. 

In the first stage of growth until the child is seven or eight 
years of age, the selection of suitable activities, which take ad- 
vantage of the physical, chemical, and biological facts that con- 
stantly come under the observation of the modern child, was 
found to be more of a social problem than a scientific one. The 
activities were selected, therefore, primarily for their social, 
rather than their scientific value. (The term scientific is here 
used in the specialized sense, meaning the formulation and 
classification of facts from the distinct points of view of the 
physicist, the chemist, the biologist, or the astronomer.) Scien- 
tifically considered, therefore, the main problem during this 
period is to select and reinforce the fundamental phases of the 
processes concerned in these social activities by making them 
concretely visible. 

During the latter half of this stage of growth, on the social 
side, typical occupations were chosen with great care. Similarly, 
on the scientific side, much thought was used in the selection of 
those illustrations which are typical of the action of the phys- 
ical forces studied. A child's interest in plants and animals 
is in direct connection with their relation to man. The condi- 
tions of physical environment should be taken up only as fur- 
nishing occasions and material for definite social activities, 
which a young child carries through with great satisfaction. At 
this age, however, memory of the process as something to be 
repeated and adapted to slightly altered circumstances, does 
not exist. Until children are seven years of age, sometimes older, 
while there is recognition of objects, there is rarely any distinct 


memory of process. Such memory comes only with the more or 
less conscious formulation of the process as a means to an end. 
The six-year-old children of the school began with an occu- 
pation in which conditions were similar to those of their own 
actual environment. They next took up some specialized forms 
of this ocupation in which the conditions, such as the changes 
of the seasons, are in contrast to their own. Only important 
differences, such as the lengthened day and the greater height 
of the sun in the sky, were considered in connection with a 
product of their activity, such as wheat in the North and sugar- 
cane in the South. The advance in civilization through dis- 
covery and invention, as developed in primitive occupations, 
was the topic for the next year. 

While carrying on these primitive occupations, the children 
naturally passed from the unreflective period, just as the race 
has done, into a reflective one. They began to be concerned with 
the consideration of process. The discussion of the Iron Age 
supplied a demand for the construction of a smelting oven. This 
was made of day and was of considerable size. Its construction 
required much effort. In the first attempt the draft was not 
right, as the mouth of the furnace was not in proper relation 
to the vent, both as to size and position. Instruction in the 
principles of combustion and the nature of drafts was needed. 
It is of great importance in such teaching that the teacher 
keep her twofold purpose constantly in view: (i) to provide the 
child with opportunity to develop and use, thereby learning, 
great scientific truths, and (2) to preserve, through use, the 
child's instructive spirit of inquiry, to build in his mind a con- 
cept of scientific method as a practical tool and thereby guide 
him into the experimental, the scientific habit of mind. 

It was found that at eight years a child begins to show in- 
terest in larger physical and social relations, and the spirit of 
adventure often flutters its wings. In this school a study of ex- 
ploration and discovery at this time introduced a variety of 
social conditions. Curiosity about the whole physical world was 
strongly manifested, and a brief history of the world from a 
bare, bald rock to its present condition was the starting point 
for the consideration of the chief geographical forms. At the 


same time, in their study o occupations geographical setting 
was considered in its connection with social life. In the pre- 
ceding year the children had relived various types of early com- 
munal life and had chosen their site as suited to their occupa- 
tions. In this year actual conditions and historical social events 
were studied in their geographical location. Stated from the 
adult's standpoint, the points taken up were the zonal dis- 
tribution of plants and animals, the trade-winds, and the char- 
acter of the atmosphere in its relation to life. The main purpose 
was to build up in the child's mind an idea of the physical world 
as a whole and at the same time to relate his social interest to 
definite areas in widely separated parts of the world. About 
this age the children were able to carry on experiments which 
they knew illustrated general conditions, or which were in re- 
lation to the discovery or use of certain facts or a force of nature 
by the particular people under consideration. Their approach 
to the zonal distribution of plants, for example, may have been 
made through the discovery of wheat by a tribe of primitive 
people. This led the group to various lines of speculation as to 
how wheat-seed was first brought to this locality, what sort of 
climate it required, and other specific questions. These in turn 
opened up general questions of seed dispersal, distribution of 
plants according to climatic conditions, and other questions of 
plant relations and, in response to the alert interest of the 
children, developed into a course in plant physiology and 
ecology which had been from the beginning, in the mind of the 
teacher, a part of the science program. 

This alert curiosity about and keen interest in all life, both 
plant and animal, was the result of a careful stimulation of the 
child's natural impulses to observe and investigate his world. 
This desire to know more about the needs of plant life, its 
preservation and reproduction, led naturally, therefore, into 
a continually enlarging course of study of plant life and plant 
relations.* The course dealt with the life processes of the plant, 
especially those of nutrition, assimilation, growth, and irri- 

* Course developed for the most part by Katherine Andrews who worked 
under the guidance and in dose collaboration with Prof. John M. Coulter 
of the University. 


lability, with the plant's relation to animals and to other plants, 
with the influences of soil, moisture, and other environmental 
conditions upon the plant, and with the influence of plants 
upon their environment and geographical conditions. Form 
and structure were emphasized only where they illustrated the 
adaptations to function made by the plant. From this point of 
view the shape and character of leaves and stems were regarded 
as important only so far as they are related to light. The flower 
was important only in its relation to reproduction. The use of 
technical terms was avoided so far as possible, though given 
the children if necessary. 

From a wealth of material for study, choice was made of that 
which was appropriate to the season, had some relation to the 
work of the group in other branches, and did not present too 
many difficulties. One group of children, nine years of age, be- 
gan the work in the fall with the story of seed dispersal. They 
first observed and classified all the seeds they found according 
to their adaptations for dispersal, whether by wind, water, ani- 
mals, or violent discharge from the seed-pod. Later these same 
children carried out some simple experiments in nutrition, 
respiration, and transpiration. 5 The following experiment 
which proved the weight of air, even to the most skeptical child, 
was part of a series of experiments to discover the sources of the 
food of plants. The added inference by the children that air 
has weight, was unexpected to the teacher: 6 

Each child carefully weighed a pot and filled it with dry loam, 
weighed the pot again, and computed the weight of the loam. He 
then weighed a bean seed and planted it in the known quantity of 
loam. The pots were put in a favorable place for growth and kept 
watered. Account was kept of the amount of water put upon the 
plant during the experiment. When the seedling was about six 
indies high, it was taken out of the pot, and both, seedling and earth 
were thoroughly dried and weighed. In all cases the children found 
an excess in weight of the earth and the seedling (seven grams) 
over the earth and bean. This greatly surprised some of the children, 
as they thought a plant's food came only from the earth; others said 

sKatherine Andrews, "Experiments in Plant Physiology," Elementary 
School Record, No. 4 (May, 1900). 
6 Ibid. 


they knew plants took in air through their leaves and that had 
caused the extra weight. An additional experiment was made to 
prove to some skeptical children that air has weight by showing its 
pressure. One child thought that the water put upon the plant 
might have contained something dissolved in it which would not 
evaporate. So a quantity of water equal to that upon the plant was 
evaporated and the remaining solids found to weigh one-tenth of a 
gram. As this would not account for the seven grams, they consid- 
ered their original conclusion correct. 

In further experiments the children worked out the rela- 
tions of air and water currents to the varying pressure pro- 
duced by the expansion of the air by heat. In developing a 
problem such as the trade-winds, a child of this age takes only 
general featuresthe motion of the winds as produced by the 
motion of the earth, the pouring in toward the equatorial re- 
gions of the heavy, cold air from the north and south, and 
the forcing upward of the broad belt of air heated by a tropic 
sun. When local weather conditions were studied, the condi- 
tions of the child's own environment were taken as a starting 
point. No detailed or continuous weather observations were 

By this time the children had a fairly definite idea of the 
world as a whole. It was to them a rock ball, on which the 
continents are slight elevations covered with a thin soil pro- 
duced by the crumbling of the rock. They pictured this ball 
surrounded by great bodies of water in which warm and cold 
currents circulate and modify the climates of the shores. It is 
covered with an atmosphere, a medium of exchange, by means 
of which the most important conditions of life water, light, 
and heat are distributed. They thought of it as covered with 
plant and animal life, its kind and abundance being deter- 
mined by physical environment For the most part they had a 
fairly definite idea of the chief causes affecting climate and 
the zonal distribution of plants and animals, and of man's con- 
tinuous control and adaptation of conditions about him. 7 

7 Mrs. Ailing Aber's book on An Experiment in Education will give teach- 
ers a concrete illustration of how this work was first carried through suc- 
cessfully with children. 


In their experiments with plants these nine-year-old chil- 
dren demonstrated the dependence of both plant and animal 
life upon these elements and the conditions, and upon each 

A strong, growing leaf was submerged in a glass of water and put 
in direct sunlight. Bubbles which the children recognized as a gas 
were seen to come off from the leaf. They noticed that these bubbles 
came off faster in strong sunlight and ceased altogether when the 
glass was placed in darkness. To find out the nature of the gas, 
some was collected by putting algae in a large beaker of water and 
a funnel over the plants. A test-tube was filled with water and in- 
verted over the stem of the funnel, so that the mouth of the tube 
was just under the water. The beaker was placed in strong light, and 
as the bubbles arose they were led into the test-tube through the 
funnel and displaced the water in the tube. When enough had col- 
lected to test, the children applied a glowing splinter to the gas and 
found that it burst into flame, proving the gas to be oxygen. A 
strong, healthy plant was then put under a bell-jar together with a 
small beaker of clear lime water. Fresh air from outdoors was in- 
closed in the jar and the rim covered with vaseline so that no air 
could get in. The bell-jar was covered with a black cloth so that the 
plant would be under night conditions. The next morning a white 
coating was found on the lime water, which the children knew 
showed the presence of carbon dioxide. 

From these experiments the children concluded that two 
processes went on, one a giving out of oxygen and the other 
a giving out of carbon dioxide. They knew that the air con- 
tained oxygen, which was taken in by animals and converted 
into carbon dioxide, and they saw that the process of respira- 
tion was similar in plants. But the quantity of oxygen given 
off was much greater than the amount of carbon dioxide, for 
there were many bubbles of oxygen coming from the sub- 
merged plant, while the carbon dioxide (which they found to 
come off in darkness) did not cause bubbling. This excess of 
oxygen would keep the air in a condition fit for animals to 
live in. They were told that the process of respiration went on 
all the time, but only in sunlight could the plant take in 
carbon dioxide and convert it, with the water and nutriment 
derived from the soil, into starch and other food for the plant. 


The presence of green matter in the leaves, as necessary to 
the manufacture of food, was emphasized. 

At nine years, sometimes as early as eight, the child's atti- 
tude toward his work begins to change. Although both gen- 
eralization and specialization in science come much later, yet 
the method and spirit of his inquiry are modified at this age, 
and he has entered upon what may be called the second 
period of elementary education. 

Physiography was chosen as the first subject to be lifted 
out of its immediate relation to the activities of his tor}'. This 
change in method was partly in response to the children's 
dawning realization at ten years of the relation of means to 
ends. It was also in response to their increasing ability to fol- 
low one field of interest continuously and to deduce general, 
uniform principles from their observations or experiments. 
Physical geography was continued with the eleven-year-old 
children and covered the general physical characteristics of 
the whole United States. A change was made to a more defi- 
nitely planned and, therefore, more formal method of treat- 
ment. The children carried on their work by (i) discussion, 
(2), written papers, (3) assigned reading, (4) construction of 
putty relief maps of the chosen localities. In the following year 
the class made a detailed study of the formation of the earth, 
and especially of sedimentary rocks. 

In all of the experimental work of the second growth period 
the consciousness of the end to be attained was more definite, 
and the processes necessary to attain that end were more in- 
volved than in that of children in the first stage. During this 
period as in the first, the activities are still carried on for their 
own sake. They were, however, more consciously used as a 
means to a result, which may be valuable to the child either 
because of its social or its scientific interest. At this time the 
child begins to experiment consciously. He initiates certain 
conditions to find out what will happen. Instead of "Tell me 
why this happens," he is apt to say, "Don't tell me, let me see 
if I can find out myself." 

In an article, "Astro-Geography" this anecdote is told which 
indicates the children's ability to take large and comprehen- 


sive views of the physical and social world at the age of eight or 
nine years. 8 

The members of a class were discussing plans for a year's work on 
the history of Chicago. ... A small boy of eight very seriously 
propounded the following problem which had evidently caused him 
much thought: "Which do you think," he said, "is the best way to 
study geography to begin with your own place and go out, out, out, 
until you reach the stars, or to begin with the stars and come in 
and in until you reach your own place again?" He was told that peo- 
ple differ as to the wisdom of either course, was reminded that 
during the previous year he had studied about people who lived in 
very different parts of the earth, and the present plan was to study 
about his own locality. He accepted the answer, and seemed satisfied 
to begin at home. While settling back contentedly, however, he 
murmured: "But I shall get a book about the stars, anyway." This 
story may indicate an unusual state of mind in an eight-year-old 
child. Experience has proven, however, that children between eight 
and nine take a large and universal view of their world much 
oftener than they are given credit for so doing. . . . 

The article continues: 

A city child has so much of people and their many activities that 
his naive attitude of wonder and delight in the heavenly bodies 
may die still-born. It behooves both school and home, therefore, to 
give him the chance which only the leisure of youth can afford, for 
development of his genuine interest in the marvels of the countless 
stars and immense distances of space. Neither should it be forgotten 
that there is a great plasticity still inherent in the child's mind, 
which makes possible the use of material that seems to the ordinary 
adult mind too abstract or too remote to be suggestive. Furthermore, 
a child eight or ten has no fear of any subject because of association, 
no habit of regarding one problem as more difficult than another. 
Points in astro-geography, as in physiography, which take an hour's 
work with college students, were worked out by children of this age 
in fifteen minutes. . . . Occasions often arise with very young chil- 
dren when they note marked changes in length of day and night, 
and of season. If reference to the causes of these changes is made in 
a story form, the teacher can keep the ideas plastic and open to the 
larger universal view, even though at the time the child may be 
occupied with small results of the same changes, such as autumn 
fruits, winter ice and snow, the planting of his garden, or the re- 
turn of the birds in the spring. Seven-year-old children begin to ask 

sKatherine Camp, "Astro-Geography for Children," The Elementary 
School Teacher, Vol. IV, No. 5, 1904. 


definitely for the story of the earth. Observation of the days of the 
equinoxes and the relation of the Christmas holiday to the return 
of the sun will help make the story of the seasons dramatic. Here 
again, in connection with something they are carrying on, can be 
introduced the explanation of the moon's phases, why the North 
Star only seems stationary, and other stories to identify the guiding 
stars of the heavens. By the use of globes and a strong light, a real 
appreciation of the reason for the visible changing phases of the 
moon may be easily demonstrated, also the periodic recurrence of 
the eclipse. The detailed working out of the definite position of the 
moon with relation to the sun and earth, which results in its differ- 
ent phases, might better be left until two or three years later. It 
was found that the child at this early age will learn to look for the 
full moon rising in the east, as the sun disappears in the west, and 
associate that eastern position with its relation to the sun. 

Much experimental work, besides that given in connection 
with the ecology of the lake region, was incidental to the study 
of colonial industries. The various processes of the textile in- 
dustries of colonial times were taken up in detail and included 
the cultivation and preparation of wool, flax, and cotton. In 
connection with the construction of some machines used in 
the textile process studied, a most primitive type was studied 
first to show man's first use of energy. The later forms fol- 
lowed which illustrate a more complicated type involving a 
change of the form of energy. In such a machine as the 
spinning-wheel the three laws of machines take concrete form 
as bringing about some desired end the thread made. With 
an understanding of the spinning-wheel as a background, a 
child easily appreciates each step made in the invention of the 
spinning-jenny, and its apparently complicated action is in- 
telligently followed. He hails with delight each modification 
which overcomes a difficulty. 


In his laboratory work in cooking, the child at the end of his 
eighth year had completed a threefold classification of foods. 
In the succeeding one, in his study of the physiology of diges- 
tion, he attempted a more analytic look at each classification. 
The effect of heat and water on carbohydrates, fats, and pro- 


teins was determined by means of detailed experiment. The 
value of cooking as a preparation for digestion was learned. 
In this way he made a general survey of the process of diges- 
tion and gained some familiarity with it. The points taken 
up, at this time, were general. The aim was to secure an idea 
of the digestive process as a series of solutions accomplished 
by fermentation, of the function of each part of the digestive 
system, and, in a general way, of the relation of food to energy. 
The detail of these processes, the particular chemical or phys- 
ical force at work, did not concern him. All he wanted was 
a simple illustration of "what happened": hence he was not 
troubled by the fact that we do not know how it happens, or 
in the true sense exactly what does happen. This sort of illus- 
trative experimental work seems to fulfil requirements which 
demand recognition of a problem, initiation on the child's 
part, and utilization by him of means suggested by the teacher 
to obtain an end which he appreciates and desires. 

It was found necessary to take time each year to sum up 
the general features of the year's work. Different avenues of 
approach were used in making this summary. In one year, 
with children of nine or ten, the geography of the whole world 
was attempted from the mathematical point of view, the need 
for the use of latitude and longitude in their historical work 
furnishing the occasion. 


After this kind of preparation the child at ten years was 
ready to take up the growth of the continent as a convenient 
basis, on die geographic side, for gathering together all his 
previous experience. A brief review was made of the various 
theories of the earth's formation and its position in the solar 
system as affecting climatic conditions. This was the starting 
point for the consideration of the physical forces at work in 
the formation of the continent of North America. As in the 
fifth year, the child was led to sum up his knowledge and state 
his conception of the earth as a rock ball whose surface 
throughout long ages has taken definite shape by the inter- 


action of forces which are still at work. The main purpose was 
to help the child form a notion of the dynamic character of 
the changes in the earth's surface, to see that its present condi- 
tion is but one stage in a long series, and that the same forces 
which acted in the past act still. In this way, he was led to 
construct imaginatively the conditions which must have ob- 
tained in very early stages of geological history. Here, as in 
his previous reconstruction of physiographic conditions, his 
images were of the most general character. 

Experimentation accompanied this imaginative remaking of 
the continent, in order to secure typical concrete illustrations 
of such things as the action of a gas on a solid, the solution in 
water of the solids changed by such action and the subsequent 
crystallization of the solid from that solution, the solution of 
a gas in a liquid, and of the conditions that determine, roughly 
speaking, that solution. The physical characteristics connected 
with the formation of the rocks in the various geologic ages 
were taken up in more or less detail. The* amount of time thus 
spent was determined by the possibility of actually reproduc- 
ing some of the conditions which bring about the structure 


With older children, from ten to thirteen, many such ideas 
can be worked out. Those which are involved in the construc- 
tion of a sun-dial, of the day circle, the mapping of the chief 
constellations, and the making of such a model of the solar 
system as is suggested in Iles's Intuitive Geometry. One year's 
work of the twelve-year-old children involved a review of the 
geographical features of the historical setting studied and of 
the work on general physical forces and zonal distribution, 
etc., covered when the children were ten. The view of the 
world as a whole was then dropped and taken up the follow- 
ing year from the standpoint of physical geography and geol- 
ogy. Even in the ninth year of school life, when the child is 
between twelve and thirteen, the interest in formulation and 


classification as such was not strongly apparent. True sec- 
ondary education in scientific subjects could not, therefore, be- 
gin. The practical differentiation begun the previous year, 
however, was carried farther with advantage during the year. 
Practical considerations, as always, determined whether the 
differentiation took a physical or a biological aspect. On the 
biological side the natural sequence was a further study of the 
existing types of animal life, kept in touch with the evolu- 
tionary processes as briefly given the preceding year in the 
geological study of North America. 

Group X, at the age of thirteen years, took their first general 
course in biology. This was planned to develop the idea of 
animal life, began with simple forms, and ended with the 
physiology of man. The course was centered on the function 
of parts rather than a detailed study of the changes in form 
of anatomical parts; it was accompanied by some experiments 
in plant physiology, which emphasized the adaptation of plants 
to environment, and was illustrated by the adaptation of 
vegetation to a city's smoke and heat. 

The theories of the formation of the earth as a part of a 
nebulae, once like other nebulae seen today, were repeated 
from year to year, and afforded an important and clear illus- 
tration of the way in which scientific theories are formed only 
to be replaced by others. The purpose of a theory as a work- 
ing basis for thought became familiar to the children. For 
years the study of science had been planned to build up in the 
mind of the child a mental image of the physical and biological 
processes of change and growth as a continuous round of the 
freeing and utilization of energy. The physical forces of gravity, 
heat, light, electricity were seen as factors in the process, some- 
times tearing down and at others building up. During these 
years practically the whole story of life and growth had been 
presented in terms of family life and in relation to its require- 
ments for food, shelter, and clothing. Various activities, chosen 
because of their social worth, illustrated these processes in more 
specific fashion and made the ideas of solution, evaporation, 
crystallization, and precipitation concrete to the child. Solids, 
liquids, and gases became familiar forms of matter. Over and 


over the story of the earth was told, the formation of the rocks 
and soil and the parts that air and water, heat and light play 
in the life of plants and animals. From the very beginning the 
concept of gravity as the pull of the earth on matter was 
presented to the children. They rediscovered the use of weights 
and measures as a way of finding the amount of the pull or 
gravitation, of the scales as a device for finding equal pulls or 
for the comparison of quantity as obtained by measurement, 
and of mass as measured by the pull of the earth. At eight years 
the child had formulated a rational system of weights and 
measures; a year later he understood something of the laws of 
falling bodies and recognized the motion of the pendulum as 
governed by the same laws. Constant reference of this sort to 
illustrations of this force acting in the world about him had 
made the child's idea more and more explicit, until in his 
work on machines he was ready to use the notion of measur- 
ing work by units of weights carried through units of space. 
Through his own observations he could interpret the effects of 
the ever-acting gravitational force on animals and plants and 
as used in the barometer and water-power. 

In the same way other topics were taken up in this spiral 
fashion. The part that plants play in rendering the energy 
from the sun available to animals was developed. The idea 
of time and its measurement was related year after year to the 
rotation of the earth on its axis and around the sun, as the 
cause of the change of the seasons and of day and night. Each 
year the concept of the earth as a whole and in its relations to 
the sun and in the solar system grew in clarity and meaning. 


When the school closed, two of the groups had arrived at 
the point where they profitably pursued special scientific topics. 
They studied general biology from the evolutionary point of 
view, and special aspects of physics as well as mathematics were 
successfully taught them by graduate students in the University. 
A course in physiography supplemented one in sanitation given 
in connection with the choice of the club-house site. All of 


the courses, with the exception of the last, were taught by 
graduate students who were at the same time doing special 
\vork under the many specially gifted lecturers and teachers 
then gathered in the University of Chicago. All were chosen 
by the Director because their major interest lay in the par- 
ticular subject taught. 9 

It was felt that during the nine years of the school's curricu- 
lum the use made of observation and experimental activities 
accomplished certain definite results. Those who observed the 
children felt they had attained to a measure of skill and readi- 
ness in the use of the experimental method of inquiry, had 
gained a general conception of die dependence of the various 
forms of life upon each other and upon the inorganic world, 
had given evidence that their general interest in what happens 
in an experiment had passed over into an interest in how the 
thing happens, and in addition, had learned the use of books 
as sources, not only of information, but also of the condensed 
conclusions of other men's observations. They were ready, in 
all respects, for the more specialized work of the secondary 
period. Such a child would be in no danger of assuming too 
soon and too rigidly the attitude of the specialist. He would 
be able to choose a point of view from which to regard any 
set of natural conditions whether geological or biological, with- 
out shutting out the interaction of one field of observation 
upon the others. The machine with which he would perform 
experiments in the physical laboratory would never be to him, 
as it is now to many, a unique and isolated invention of the 
laboratory, but would find its place as a means of analysis of 
all the various forms of machines in use about him. Further- 
more, his interest in nature would never be that of the col- 
lector pure and simple, but rather that of the scientific natural- 
ist whose collections have some specific and definite aim. The 
children of this school had lived through a continuous series 
of concrete experiences, in which each used his own acquired 
method of experimentation and logical reasoning as his guide 

a Biology, George Carrey; physics, A. T. Jones, A. T. Stewart; mathe- 
matics, Anne Moore, W. S, Hart; physiography, Wallace Atwood; sanitation, 
Althea Hanner. 


for further planning. There was for them no danger of a too 
narrow specialization in any subject, for with such training 
no subject could be tightly boxed off from life. In general, it 
was felt that the school's use of experimental and observational 
science accomplished in some measure the training of a con- 
structive and inquiring mind and thus fully justified its place 
in elementary education* The most important result of all 
was that these children felt no fear when entering a new en- 
vironment or attacking a new field of work. 


The activity of cooking is in itself its own reason for being. 
It constantly furnishes incentives to attempt new problems 
and can, therefore, be used to great advantage with children. 
The choice of the subject-matter for cooking in the school 
was always in direct relation to an occasion of great importance 
to every one the group luncheon. The occasion thus became a 
natural opportunity to show hospitality to others. The motive 
for each child's learning how to cook was, therefore, a genuinely 
social one to achieve a result which was palatable not only 
to himself but to others. The clear proof of social gain lay 
in success as a pudding maker. Moreover, because a good pud- 
ding was a desideratum for all, a spirit of free interchange of 
ideas, suggestions, and results in failure and success, imbued 
the embryo cooks. 

What was cooked was always chosen with a view to its con- 
nection with the other activities of the program. Cooking 
involved fundamental relations to the physical and social en- 
vironment and gave a reason for the study of geography, of 
plants and animals. It was the activity around which the child 
saw all the simple social and economic relationships organize 
and centralize themselves in his study of primitive ways of 
living. From a scientific point of view also, cooking as the use 
of heat and water on food and the physical and chemical 
changes which result proved a rich source of material illustra- 
tive of the various transformations of energy from sunlight 
to that necessary to human needs and uses. In addition it gave 


unexcelled opportunities for the use of the experimental 
method. The necessary facts, technical skills, and ways of do- 
ing, charged with an organic emotional interest, were imbedded 
in experience through continuous use in more and more com- 
plicated operations. \Vhile cooking was something the child 
could do in company with others, through the laboratory- 
like arrangement of the kitchen, he was individually responsi- 
ble for the success of his own portion, and the social end was 
not permitted to overpower or befog his joy in discovery by 
actual performance. Each time he cooked he was guided to 
find that his method was general to all kinds of cooking. This 
method lay in the order of the technical steps or was discovered 
in some principle, such as solution, necessary as a means of con- 
trol, and which, still later, he found himself using in a more 
complicated process. With children of six, seven, and eight 
years, the cooking of cereals was progressively educational in 
so many ways that it developed into a continuous course of 
study throughout these three years with no sense of monotony 
on the part of either pupils or teacher. 10 

"As used in the Laboratory School the activity of cooking 
supplied the child with a genuine motive and the medium 
for its expression; it gave him a chance for first-hand experi- 
ence; and it brought him into contact with realities. It did 
all this, but in addition it was liberalized throughout by transla- 
tion into its historic and social values and scientific equivalen- 
cies. With the growth of the child's mind in knowledge and 
power it ceases to be a pleasant occupation merely and becomes 
more and more a medium, an instrument, and an organ of 
understanding, and is thereby transformed." 

Therefore, cooking held a distinctive place in the curriculum 
of the school. Its successful use was primarily due to the fact 
that its program was planned and directed by two teachers ia - 
whose training in the scientific and practical aspects of house- 
hold arts was coupled with wide teaching experience. The 
program began in the kindergarten, and the work was adjusted 
to the different psychological age periods. At the end of seven 

10 John Dewey, The School and Society, p. s?o. 

11 Althea Harmer and Katherine Camp. 


years it was an adequate working program. A complete series 
of materials to be used in the program was listed, together 
with the accompanying and correlating scientific experiments 
which clarified and illustrated the general principle or process 
central in any lesson. A great help to this success was the fact 
that some time previous to this experiment, Mrs. Ellen H. 
Richards of the Massachusetts' Institute of Technology had 
worked out in theory as well as in practice what was after- 
wards called "the free-hand method of teaching cooking." This 
method presupposed a knowledge of the constituents of food, 
of the effect of controlled application of heat, and of the 
processes of solution and fermentation, which should make any 
housekeeper independent of recipes and creative in her cook- 
ing. Through Pratt and Drexel Institutes, where the teachers 
had been trained, much information and material, as well as 
detailed results of work with large classes of older girls and 
teachers, were available. In both, the work had been organized 
on the technical side and in its bearings on health, hygiene, 
dietetics, and sanitation. No experiments, however, with chil- 
dren of elementary age had been made. The problem in the 
school, then, became one of adapting to little children the 
successful courses already planned and in practical use with 
older girls. Many persons in the field of household economics 
were intensely interested in the experiment and were most 
generous with their suggestions and advice. The experience at 
Pratt Institute, especially in the adaptation of the equipment 
to the needs of younger children, can hardly be overestimated. 

From the point of view of the teacher of general science, 
the course in cooking afforded more opportunity for the de- 
velopment of the scientific method than any other activity 
carried on in the school, with the possible exception of garden- 
ing, the general geography of the earth and atmosphere, and 
some of the textile processes. The equipment, although planned 
with an emphasis upon economy, was complete and practical. 
The cooking tables were of the sort that could be adapted by 
means of stools to the heights of the children. 

The experience of the first year brought out certain points 
on the basis of which the succeeding year's experiment was 


altered and improved. It was found there was no need to stimu- 
late the child's interest by allowing him to choose the particular 
things to be cooked. Some of the things attempted were beyond 
the technical capacities of the children to realize. It is diffi- 
cult for one who has not shared such an experiment to ap- 
preciate how great is a child's interest in the simplest processes 
in the preparation of food, and how keen is his observation of 
them. Even the ordinary preparation of food, however, proved 
so complicated that it was necessary in the succeeding years to 
progressively simplify the things which each child did in order 
to preserve in him a sense of an effective control of the process. 

During the first three years the cooking was done as far as 
the child consciousness was concerned for the sake of the im- 
mediate product or end. The children prepared some one thing, 
each child contributing his proportion to the whole. In this 
way each felt the responsibility of the result not only for him- 
self but for the whole class, so that the social end reinforced 
the immediate one. This interest in the immediate result so 
overshadowed the steps in the processes he was watching that 
very little use could be made, from a scientific point of view, 
of the important physical and chemical changes going on. 
Observation was incidental to securing good results, and the 
reasons for certain indications received little attention until 
after the first year and a half, when a few general principles 
were worked out while the actual cooking was going on. The 
children during this period spent most of their time in "sci- 
ence" work on the materials used in cooking. 

Somewhere between the ages of eight and ten a change in 
the interest takes place, and the thing is done with more con- 
scious reference to technique and to what might be termed 
the intellectual side. The child comes to see that if he un- 
derstands the reasons for what he is doing, he can carry 
on a number of other operations of the same general class. 
This made necessary a change in the way in which the work 
was given. Even the simplest operation in cooking has so many 
conditions that it is impossible for the child to select those 
bringing about a certain result that is important for him. So 
at this stage simple experiments were introduced where con- 


ditions were so controlled that he was able to draw a needed 
inference and get hold of a general principle. For example, 
the effect of heat on albumen was worked out by first finding 
out the way in which the temperature of the water could be 
determined from its appearance thus were worked out the 
scalding, simmering, and boiling points. The next step was to 
subject a little white of egg to each temperature for varying 
lengths of time drawing thence such inferences as the fol- 
lowing: "The egg albumen had a very few threads in it at 
140, at 160 it is jelly-like, and at 212 it is tough," "When 
albumen is boiling, it is very hard, and at simmering, it is very 
nice and tender/' After these underlying principles were 
grasped, the work became more deductive, so to speak. It was 
treated more as applied science. Extracts from a simple clear 
account of the way this course was taught, written by the 
teacher who was mainly responsible for its success follow: 12 

For the youngest children foods such as cereals and fruits were 
selected since these required the simplest preparation and little 
variation in the manipulation of materials. The children's real in- 
terest was in the active work, the luncheon which they prepared 
and served, after receiving careful direction either in words or by 
demonstration. The value of the work was in the nice handling and 
careful use of materials and in the forming of habits of neatness 
and order. All this helped to create order not only in doing things 
of a practical nature, but also in their thinking and planning. It 
was similar to the organized play of the kindergarten in its influence 
on the social organization of the group. The observations made 
during the progress of the work were valuable as emphasizing a 
few regularly recurring phenomena. 

In the interests of simplicity, part of the luncheons were brought 
from home in the form of sandwiches, and a drink of hot dilute 
cocoa was generally served. The clearing away and dishwashing 
were as much enjoyed as any other part of the process. This once-a- 
week school luncheon was the result of dose cooperation of the 
parents with the teacher. In this way the lacking vegetables and 
meat were supplemented at home on these days. 

The cooking had particular educational value for the younger 
children in giving opportunity for individual work, initiative, and 

"Althea Harmer, "Elementary Cooking in the Laboratory School," 
The Elementary School Teacher, Vol. Ill, No. 10, 1903, 


independence. It also called for group work and encouraged a 
spirit of helpfulness and nice adjustment of personalities to the 
work of the group as a whole. It made an appeal to children which 
was immediate and direct and was of such a nature that it could 
be arranged in orderly sequence. Beginning with the simple prep- 
aration of food to be served for luncheon, the children became in- 
terested in the material used and in the processes involved in the 
preparation of these materials. This made it possible to introduce 
simple experiments previous to the cooking and enabled them to 
work out the formulae and steps used in the preparation of the 
food. The logical sequence of this work formed simple and direct 
habits of thinking and acting. These were built upon and developed 
in later work where processes were more involved, where the inter- 
action of the work among the children required a finer adjustment 
of each individual to the social life of the group. 

The work as given to six-year-old children changed somewhat in 
character as regards the manner of its presentation. This change was 
in accord with the corresponding change in the attitude of the chil- 
dren. The materials were the same, that is, cereals and fruits. Grains 
were selected on account of then* relation to the course on Present 
Occupations, which began with the study of a typical grain farm. 
The interest in the cooking started with the desire the child has to 
carry further the work of the farmer and the miller and follow the 
food from its preparation to its final use. The grains also furnished 
the simplest illustration of the effect of heat and water on the 
starch and cellulose in preparing them for digestion. 

At the beginning of the cooking period the class with the teacher 
gathered in a semi-circle at a blackboard. The various preparations 
of cereals were examined, and the methods of preparation con- 
sidered. By means of actual experiments the children compared the 
different preparations as to difference in time required for their 
cooking. The reasons for this difference were developed. In cooking 
each preparation they worked out some new point in the applica- 
tion of heat and water. The work started with the simplest use of 
fire and water and their effect on the starch granules of the cereal 
grain. The points brought out were the effect of the mechanical 
breaking up of the cellulose and of water on the starch granules, 
so that mastication, taste, and all other processes of digestion were 
more easily accomplished. The idea that grinding the grains shortens 
the process of cooking was then introduced. Experiments were made 
to show in a general way the composition of the grain, the differ- 
ence in the relative amounts of starch and cellulose in the various 
grains, and the different preparations of grain found in the market, 
such as the hulled, cracked, ground, or flaked varieties. 

Fruits and vegetables were selected the following year because 


the problems involved in their preparation grew naturally out of 
the material as used. From experiments suggested by actual work 
and formulated in class discussion, the children were led to solu- 
tions of the problems as they arose. 

The starch and cellulose found in the cereals studied the 
previous year were now found in varying conditions in fruits 
and vegetables. The value of water as a food constituent was 
brought out, as were the flavoring principles, such as the es- 
sential oils, vegetable acids, sugar, and mineral salts. These 
were considered, o course, with the younger children more in 
the part they have in giving character and flavor to the veg- 
etable than in any nutritive value they possess. 

In the experiments made in this year the interest was in 
seeing what happened and in making discoveries. The purpose 
of the experiment was often lost in the interest of the im- 
mediate program. Therefore the connection was made by the 
teacher between the purpose of the experiment and the problem 
to be solved. Though only a phase of the work, this formed 
a new problem for the children. For example, the potato was 
to be cooked. The child was led to compare it with the cereals 
previously studied. This led to an analysis of the potato which 
completely engrossed him for the time being. After he had dis- 
covered all he could about the potato, he was thrown back to 
the original problem of how to cook it. This at once called 
for an application of the facts discovered in the experiments. 
The fact that such experimentation was continuous through- 
out the year, and that results were always made use of to some 
practical end, gave added value to each experiment. Each be- 
came part of a larger whole. The original problem thus grew 
larger and showed many sides. 

In these practical activities the child also came to have some 
idea of the real value of number. He used parts of a cup, as 
units; he then got the relation of these units to a larger whole; 
and he began to have an idea of simple fractions. From the 
manipulation of materials, and comparison of these by weight 
and measure, he got, in a concrete way, a definite idea of pro- 
portion which later on was made use of in his study of ab- 
stract number. In connection with the balancing of the grains 


to obtain the amount of water required by each, recipes were 
made for their cooking. He discovered the practical importance 
of the recipe: just what it is used for, namely, to give the ma- 
terials and quantities required. 

In connection with the history the children took up primi- 
tive modes of cooking out-of-doors. In this connection they 
considered primitive methods of applying of heat, such as 
roasting in hot ashes, on hot metal or stones, boiling by means 
of hot stones in water or buried in the ground. The children 
had two or three primitive feasts where they cooked potatoes, 
corn, apples, chestnuts, and some sort of meat. Application of 
heat under these new conditions served as an occasion for the 
child to abstract the principle he had been using in connec- 
tion with modern methods and apparatus. This abstraction 
was a necessary step in the control of the primitive fireplace. 

With the older children the preparation and cooking of 
proteins was taken up. The cooking of eggs, meats, and fish 
was followed by a review of the milk and vegetable soups and 
was concluded with the preparation of batters and doughs by 
means of the various raising agents. 

During 1898-1899 and 1899-1900, the cooking program de- 
veloped to such an extent that the practical work was turned 
over to an assistant. 13 The attention of the directing teacher was 
then devoted to relating the processes of cooking to physiology 
and especially to nutrition and hygiene. This course was with 
the older children and, in its experimental approach, was de- 
veloped and carried on with the collaboration of the science 

Since experience showed that cooking was the activity in 
which the children most easily learned the use of the scientific 
method, a detailed account of the way they thought through 
for themselves the necessary steps in their daily procedure fol- 
lows. At the beginning of a lesson the proper utensils were 
gotten out and arranged in order of use and suitability to the 
cooking to be done. Then, with a view to softening and de- 
veloping the flavor of the grain cooked, they developed, by 

is Mary Tough. 


discussion, the relation of amount or mass cooked to the unit 
of liquid needed, and of the form of cereal to the time re- 
quired. Next, through measuring and weighing, volume and 
mass, or bulk, became practical working conceptions. It was 
phrased thus by one of the children: "We took two cups of 
flaked rice to one cup of water because it is so light; one- 
quarter a cup of whole rice takes one cup of water." Then 
they learned to distinguish between the different factors which 
controlled the amount of water needed, the length of time for 
cooking, the extent of surface of pan exposed to air, and the 
amount of heat to be applied. Each member of the group 
followed a different way of preparing the same food. The vari- 
able factors were thus sifted out. In one case this would be the 
amount of water, in another the character of the cereal, or in 
another the way of applying heat In all the type of utensil 
was kept the same. 

The technical sequence was worked out by the children as 
a group. Individual variations from the group plan were made 
by original children and were recognized and welcomed by 
both teacher and children. Group discussion clarified the part 
each one took in the experimental process. The class was held 
as a group until each individual felt confident that he knew 
what to do. It was found by observation of the teachers that 
with the younger children, attitude and expression indicated 
when the moment had come to cut short the talking and pro- 
ceed to work. With the older children, the interest in the form 
of expressing what they were about to undertake increased very 
rapidly as they became more and more conscious of the need 
for clarity of method in recording the results of their experi- 
mental work. Perfectness of detail came first in acquiring the 
technique of procedure. This was the same in all classes. For 
example, two small boys worked out a cooperative scheme of 
work which enabled them, through elimination of useless mo- 
tions and combination of effort, to finish ten to fifteen minutes 
ahead of the others. This time they proceeded to use either 
in writing up what they had done, or in acquiring skill in 
number work in which they felt themselves deficient 

The teacher's part was to answer questions and by a skilful 





refreshing of the children's memories to insure that plans for 
the day were workable and also different enough in character 
to furnish a new experience involving a problem for the group. 
This was only possible when the teacher's experience already 
held in conscious readiness the general principles underlying 
the course. She shared the enterprise of discovery with the child. 
She functioned in bringing together various results and in as- 
sisting the children to trace back effects to causes. She thus 
helped each child to become conscious of the general principles, 
however concretely stated, resulting from their combined ef- 

This more or less uniform plan of classroom procedure de- 
veloped into a method during the second year of the school. 
The time given to cooking varied from one and a half to two 
hours a week. The period was always divided into two parts, 
a half-hour of which was spent in planning and experimenta- 
tion. With the younger children, this half-hour was on the 
same day as the luncheon and just before it. With the older 
children, especially toward the end of each three months, the 
period was used for formulation of the principles of cooking, 
which served as a practical review of the quarter's work. The 
luncheon was never omitted with children under eleven or 

In the four older groups the care and serving of the table 
was assigned individually, strict rotation being observed, as 
the privilege of inviting guests was a part of this duty. It was 
found that children of six and under rarely have ability to 
converse freely at a table of eight or ten, so that very often a 
story was told during lunch by the teacher or visiting guests. 

One of the outstanding results of the experience with the 
cooking program was its value in teaching even the youngest 
children to use fractional parts as easily and intelligently as 
they did whole numbers. Supplemented as it was by the use 
of the fractional parts of the foot and yard in their other con- 
structive activities, this work seemed to furnish the needed 
concrete experience in multiplication and division of whole 
numbers and fractions. Because it was important to use a 
third of a cup instead of a fourth, in order to get more to eat, 


there was no muddle or confusion in the child's mind as to 
which fraction was the larger. It was easy to understand that 
if each child needed a third of a cup of cereal, twelve children 
would need four cups. The use of arithmetical symbols as the 
way of putting this down for future reference became natural 
and easy. 

The questions of marketing and keeping accounts were fre- 
quently discussed. Because of the isolated position of the school 
little of this work was done except as children nine, ten, and 
eleven helped keep the school accounts and so covered the cost 
of the food for the cooking. The children of this school were 
not cut off from shopping experience at home. With children 
who lack such experience because of their method of living, 
it would seem that it might profitably be made a part of the 
teaching program. 

Cooking involves a series of such more or less complex proc- 
esses that it was often difficult to enable the youngest children 
to develop independence and initiative in their laboratory 
periods for they were apt to become far too dependent on direc- 
tion. The children in consequence were held to a persistent 
use of general principles in all their preparation of food and 
cooking. Additional experiments were made which illustrated 
the kind of processes used and the fact that the amount of time 
needed for cooking any food was dependent upon its nature. 
They were taught for example the coagulation of albumen, 
the character of cellulose and why it should be softened, and 
how the flavor of food can be developed. This rendered the 
children confident when confronted with the cooking of un- 
known foods. They knew how to discover just how tough 
cellulose of the new food was and the approximate amount of 
starch in it or of albumen. They were able to judge whether 
the food was to be used for flavor, for roughage, or as a source 
of energy. They knew the fundamental proportions for batters 
and doughs of different consistencies and their relation to the 
different raising agencies. Such daily experience freed them 
from a helpless dependency on recipes, which teaching in 
cooking often gives. When one knows how much baking 
powder the use of one egg replaces, cakes are no mystery. 


When one knows that the principle of making white sauce 
depends on the separation of the grains of starch by the proper 
method, that thorough mixing and an even heat will prevent 
the formation of lumps, and that the addition of one third 
of the total quantity of liquid needed insures the uniform 
quality of the product, lumpy gravy and soups never appear 
on the menu. 

To those who saw the alert and vital interest of these younger 
children in this activity the lack of attention and the usual 
bored attitude of adult or college students in household eco- 
nomics, even when taught by an expert chemist, stood out in 
great contrast. It is probable that the college teacher would not 
find so many inhibitions and would be able to carry her ideal 
of research in cookery further, had her students had an ele- 
mentary experience such as that of the children in this school. 

To see a class of eight-year-old children produce perfect 
omelets, using small covered sheet-iron saucepans over gas 
burners was a revelation of what experimental work could do 
to curb the natural desire to poke in and see what is happening. 
They had seen what happened in class test, and their confidence 
in the control of the heat and knowledge of the correct length 
of time gave them success in practical application. No failure 
was ever passed by or covered up. It was critically reviewed to 
ascertain what conditions had affected the result. Endowed 
with an unusual combination of scientific and intellectual ap- 
preciation and an artistic temperament the teacher, who car- 
ried this course to its completion, was able to give the children 
an unconscious feeling for the artistic side of preparing and 
serving food and high ideals of efficiency in planning and 
handling utensils. 

The pressure of college preparatory examinations made 
it necessary to eliminate from the program of the older chil- 
dren the course that had been planned for them in the less 
used techniques of cooking. Some of the children, however, 
worked these out at home and became experts in the prepara- 
tion of certain foods. Almost all of the children used what 
they had learned with great pride and joy in the preparation 
of Sunday night suppers for the family. The preparation and 


serv r ing of luncheons for distinguished visitors went through 
very successfully. The reports from the alumnae indicate that 
the understanding and use of cooking principles culminated 
in surety, dexterity, and confidence in meeting the demands of 
adult life. This was especially true of the two older classes who 
had been six or seven years in the school. 


Because of the fundamental character of mathematical sci- 
ence the development of that tool was one of the main con- 
cerns of the planners of the school's curriculum. During the 
first stages and the transitional years the problem was to see 
that the children had appropriately simple occasions to use 
number so that they saw in it a way to get order and effective- 
ness into their occupations, whether games or constructions. 
Measuring of all kinds played its part. It was never assumed 
that mathematics can be so developed as to control social situa- 
tions, for mathematical expressions are only of use as formal 
tools in a special limited kind of experience. Hence number 
is discussed not primarily as one of the sciences but as a form 
of communication (see Chapter XVII). In Chapter XVII also 
is the account of how some children with this practical back- 
ground were able to think out, to express fundamental mathe- 
matical relations such as ratio and proportion and to use 
freely algebraic symbols and geometric construction. 


The development of the ability to plan ahead, to test, to 
evaluate results, and to deduce from them the help needed 
for future action or testing became fully conscious in only a 
few classes, and in these not with all the children. However, 
the mental attitude of being objective in sizing up a prob- 
lem, a willingness to try to see and ability to direct that seeing 
effectively was so characteristic of the majority of the children 
who had been in the school for five years that this result seemed 
to fulfil the hopes with which the science work had been 


planned. The general use of the scientific method in all lines 
of the school work had exceeded the early expectations. While 
the fields of future experimentations have been barely indi- 
cated, there is hope that the present crisis will induce educators 
to experiment scientifically in socially cooperative schools. 

Sharing in planning was the secret of the successfully social 
spirit of this school community. Social experiments must be 
planned. All concerned must enter into the planning to insure 
the success of any social undertaking, and all must accept their 
plan as tentative, to be tested by events. Only in this open- 
minded cooperative spirit can groups of individuals meet the 
problems of the shifting scene so as to insure the continuity and 
therefore the security of experience. Were the present Home- 
stead experiments animated by the same spirit of cooperative 
adventure in the field of social living as was this school of some 
thirty years ago, there would be hope of an ever-increasing 
number of genuine indigenous communities, gaining social se- 
curity through cooperation. 




JL HE familiar social activities of the child's present, and the 
attendant manual arts, with their tools and materials, served 
in the school as a natural introduction to history and geog- 
raphy, projecting and ramifying into these so inevitably that 
it only remained for the teacher to be alert to these connec- 
tions and to take advantage of them. The factors in living 
and the way they function always interest a child, regardless 
of time or place. In the school the ways of extending these 
interests and of linking them with the larger world of the past 
were through familiar activities and tools. Tools and materials, 
the wood and clay, the needle and cloth, and the processes by 
which these are manipulated, were used to initiate the child 
into the typical problems which had required human eEort, 
into the laws of human production and achievement, and into 
the methods by which man gained control of nature and made 
his ideals into the good realities of life. 

The child himself often made the process of transition from 
the present to the past an easy one. With something of the 
intuition of a true scientist he frequently chose an ancient 
method of historical approach and solved the problem of how 
to begin his study with "Let's pretend/' The group of present- 
day farmers, miners, woodsmen, cooks or garment makers, 
craftsmen or artists, sprang with the nimbleness of childhood 
out of the present complicated and dimly understood ways of 
present-day living into the ultra simplicity of the past, with 



its few and crude ways of meeting the same primal needs. It 
was not a dead past to them; they revived it by reliving it. 

The little farmers found that as primitive people they were 
hunters first or wandering tribes of herdsmen. Their interests 
were in the way they could get food, the weapons and tools 
they would be likely to use, the new inventions they made, and 
the transformations in life that arose from the powers and 
leisure thus gained. Each child was eager to remake utensils, 
to reproduce processes, to rehandle materials. He appreciated 
in a measure the situations of these ancient peoples and vaguely 
understood their problems and their successes only because 
out of the reality of his own experience he could picture their 
difficulties and imagine the resources of their natural habitat. 
Out of this new play springs a new interest in the fields and 
the forests, the mountains, the ocean, the plants, the animals 
about him. He uses his limited knowledge of the natural forces 
and forms with which he himself is surrounded to build up 
and reproduce a conception of the habitat of the people he is 
studying. Their problems became his problems for which he 
must find solutions, and the story of man what he did, where, 
and how he did it in increasingly better ways, what he invented, 
where he traveled, and what he discovered became real and 
worthy. The tale of how things, as they are, came to be, helped 
him to understand that the problem of how to live is the 
problem of all time. 

Place by place, also, the earth came to be viewed by the 
child as the home of man, in which he has struggled with un- 
toward conditions and overcome obstacles in a long upward 
climb. A child's own social world is so rich and full that it 
is not easy for him to see how much it cost, how much effort 
and thought lie back of it. Through a study of primitive living, 
however, he sees man face to face with nature, without tools, 
without manufactured materials. Step by step he follows the 
processes by which man recognized his needs and how to cope 
with them, and learns how new resources open new interests 
and bring new problems. 

The child sees life as a whole in terms of its fundamental 
needs, its simple relationships, its pure satisfactions. The point 


of view of the teacher, however, is through the bifocal lens of 
training and of adult experience. There is constant need for 
her to be agile in her change from one to the other. At any 
moment of her teaching she must lift her head for far-sighted 
vision. Like Alice, she must step with her children behind the 
looking glass and in this imaginative land she must see all 
things with their eyes and limited by their experience; but, 
in time of need, she must be able to recover her trained vision 
and from the realistic point of view of an adult supply the 
guide posts of knowledge and the skills of method. 

It was essential, therefore, in this school that a teacher, what- 
ever her specialty, should have had the fertile life experience 
that is the result of experimental living guided by intelligent 
thinking. Thus while she saw history from the psychological 
point of view of the child as the story of man, working on and 
changing his environment, from the point of view of a trained 
teacher she saw it as the classified facts o history or science. 
From the child's viewpoint she selected material concerned 
with the lives of persons or races who did interesting things 
that led to still more interesting and helpful living. Such 
selection oftentimes, especially during the years of the ele- 
mentary period, did not coincide with the chronological ar- 
rangement of a curriculum chosen by a disciple of the older 
school of learning. A teacher who held that the end in view 
was to give the child, at an early age, an understanding of 
character and social relationships in their natural dependence, 
found it impossible to follow the development of civilization 
through the successive steps in which it actually took place. 
The chronological order in historical instruction is logical to 
the adult mind, but because of its complexity and remoteness, 
is alien to the interests and understanding of a child. Experi- 
ment indicated that the young child's interest is much closer in 
spirit and understanding to the typical conditions, activities, 
and relations of the social life of a prehistoric people than to 
the complicated and artificial life of ancient Babylon or of 



The history of this early period anthropology was, there- 
fore, indirect sociologya study of the occupations of men as 
affecting intellectual growth and social advancement. It was 
believed, and the results justified such a belief, that in such a 
study the child would find a key to unlock the meanings of 
his present complicated social life. He would also discover 
the method of progressive living. As the children relived the 
drama of early man's active occupations, they found that he 
always learned by doing. His method was a trial-and-error one 
in the beginning. Then, by intelligent experimenting, he dis- 
covered, he invented, and brought to bear contrivances of his 
own fashioning upon his physical environment. What better 
introduction to the experimental method could any child have 
than that of the first discoveries of the power of mind over mat- 
ter? As a child of this school he relived the activities of primi- 
tive days, he was introduced to much scientific truth and un- 
consciously absorbed a method which increased his intellectual 
constructiveness. As he approached maturity he came to see 
how all the sciences have developed gradually out of the occupa- 
tions of living; and this is also true of the social sciences. The 
child realized, out of his own experience, as he followed both 
actually and vicariously the story of man's climb on the ladder 
of living, how all the various activities in industrial occupa- 
tions have developed from the simple to the complex. He fol- 
lowed the wool from the sheep to the nig, patiently contriving 
his own spindle, his own dye, his own loom: when older, he re- 
viewed the same process more carefully in the developing in- 
dustries of Colonial days. He saw, that while successive inven- 
tions of machines have led to the eventual betterment of social 
life, the immediate results have often been at the bitter cost 
of the discarded hand-worker whose plight illustrates an ever- 
present social problem caused by technological advance. In- 
dustrial history thus taught on a background of actual experi- 
ence with materials and processes will always have more than 
a materialistic or merely utilitarian meaning. For the children 
of this school it carried many social and moral implications 


of unsolved problems of human relationships. Thus taught, 
the history of work becomes the record of how man learned to 
think, to think to some effect, to transform the conditions of 
life so that life itself became a different and less tortured thing 
and gradually took on, for some at least, comfort and beauty. 
Here, for all thinking and socially minded persons, logically 
follows the goading query Why not comfort and beauty for 

History, thus educationally considered, was for these chil- 
dren a study of society which lays bare its process of becoming, 
and its modes of organization. In primitive living social rela- 
tionships and organizations are reduced to their simplest terms. 
The quality of an individual or the value of an act stands out 
clearly in a situation. A child can see in imagination the forces 
which favor and permit men's effective cooperation with one 
another, can recognize the sorts of character that help on or 
hold back, can appreciate the motives which draw men together 
or push them apart, and understand that quality of character 
is the same now as then. The organization of the tribe is plain 
to a child. He sees that every one must live, and that the life 
of the group is dependent upon its members. The law of in- 
dividual right and social justice is simple and clear. To most 
of the pupils, studying as a group about cooperative living, 
a social way came to mean the right way. This penetration into 
the ethical significance of social acting showed results in their 
own actions. They were willing to work together and had more 
concern for fair play. To those who watched and guided them, 
this augured well that in their later lives the social, ethical, 
and moral ways of living might become synonymous in mean- 
ing. This by-product of an intelligent and sympathetic under- 
standing of the ethics of a present situation might be called an 
indication of the moral value of history, when taught in this 

As pointed out in a description of the method of teaching 
history in the school, 1 three lines of historical development 

i Georgia F. Bacon, "History,*' Elementary School Record, Nov., 1900. 


were followed, the social, Industrial, and political. The social 
and industrial were emphasized first and the political phase 
later, although at all times attention was directed to the simple 
beginnings of government in the organization of primitive 
tribes for protection and other purposes. Only at a later stage 
of growth, at eleven or twelve years, was it found that the child 
is able to appreciate political institutions, to understand what 
special institutional idea each historic nation stands for and 
what factor it has contributed to the present complex of in- 

History for the younger children was of a generalized and 
simplified type. It was hardly history at all in the local or 
chronological sense, but aimed to give the child insight into 
and sympathy with a variety of present and fundamental so- 
cial activities. The first years of the school these courses were 
highly experimental in character. 


One year a combination of social occupations, such as coal 
mining, cotton growing, and general farm life, with stories of 
early Greek life and primitive life was tried. The class visited 
farms, modeled them, made a comparison of the houses in 
their own city with those in Greece, Japan, China, and Green- 
land, and worked out the evolution of the home from cave 
periods. The following year, the course in social occupations 
was continued. Here the main idea was the interaction of coun- 
try and city life in maintaining existing conditions. An effort 
was made to select occupations closely connected with food, 
clothing, and shelter. In another year this group made a study 
of child life in Holland, Africa, Greenland, and Japan, with 
some work on climatic conditions. As a result of the experience 
of these experimental years the regular course of study for 
Group III (six years) was present-day occupations of people in 
country and city. This course was called Typical Existing So- 
cial Occupations. The differentiation of city and country life, 
their interaction, and mutual dependence were emphasized. 


The later reports show a wide variation in detail of treatment 
of and in points of emphasis on this topic by different teachers 
and even by the same teacher with different classes. 

The work of Group IV, seven years old, was outlined as: 
Development of Social Life; Discoveries and Inventions of In- 
dustry, from the most primitive beginnings to the opening of 
authentic history. This subject-matter was used for the ajctivi- 
ties of the children of this age throughout the life of the 
school. It also varied much each year in details and manner 
of treatment, but at all times the present and the past were 
related to one another. 

The work of the eight-year-old children, Group V, who were 
on the borderland of the second period of growth, passed 
through an experimental period (1896 to 1898). In the first 
year of this period the work with this group on inventions 
through discovery had been passed over rapidly, and Homeric 
Society taken up in historical detail, since it afforded insight 
into a simple, natural life which expressed itself in a rich, 
artistic civilization. The Iliad and the Odyssey were used as 
vivid, interesting pictures of the society of the times. The 
second year of the school the children of this age, Group V, 
had been in the school since its beginning. They had had con- 
secutive work in present-day social occupations and in the 
evolution of inventions and their effect upon life, and were 
given a course which related then* ideas of the development of 
an imagined primitive tribe to a definite place and people. 
This course carried the development of civilization to a form 
in which the symbols and conveniences such as a written lan- 
guage, number system, weights, and measures approximated 
their own. The Phoenicians were chosen to typify this stage. 
As they were traders and explorers, continuously pushing back 
farther and farther the boundaries of their known world, the 
children easily made the transition to the discoveries of another 
Mediterranean maritime people, the Venetians. The class then 
followed the explorations of Marco Polo to the East, of Prince 
Henry of Portugal around Africa, and of the Spaniards to the 
west in the journeys of Columbus and Balboa to America. The 
story of Magellan told of the circumnavigation of the whole 


world. Children of eight years are interested in adventure, and 
this course dealt with the great movements of migration, ex- 
ploration, and discover) 7 which have brought the whole world 
into human ken. The account of the great explorers and dis- 
coverers thus served to make a natural transition from the 
previous year's work, which was independent of historical 
data in the strict sense of the term, to what is local and specific 
and depends upon certain specified persons who lived at cer- 
tain specified times and places. The course was used with 
Group V for the rest of the years of the school. 2 

A change is noticeable in the attitude toward his work of a 
child of nine years, and the problem of the teacher at the 
beginning of the reflective age becomes more complex. She 
must see that the subject-matter of history is so presented that 
the child's mind will reach out, question, examine, and analyze 
the forces which caused the men and women of history to 
think and act. He must understand also the social side: how 
their acts aided or hindered progress. History now becomes 
less empirical and more a matter of authentic record, so that 
the question of definite recall of what has been studied comes 
into the scheme. The attack upon the subject-matter is differ- 
ent; it is not so much a question of how a people might meet 
a problem of conditions as a question of -fact and why things 
happened as they did. During the previous years the child has 
gained some conception of space relations in the study of the 
world as a whole; definite time has meant little. He must now 
get some idea of the effect of time. This begins vaguely, but as 
the study proceeds, a knowledge of dates as an aid In compar- 
ing events is found essential. The child is still studying indirect 
sociology, and his study must be one of types in order that he 
may gain methods of independent work which will enable him 
to understand other problems of history. 


The subject-matter for Group VI also developed out of a 
series of experiments of successive years. In the later years of 

2 Course given by Laura L. Runyon. 


the school their study centered around local conditions and the 
definite activities of a particular people. Extracts from the teach- 
er's account of the work follows: 3 

The French explorers and the early settlers in the Northwest and 
the settlement of Chicago made a good beginning for children liv- 
ing in the Mississippi Valley. It gave an opportunity to enlarge the 
concepts formed in the study of the Phoenicians and the early ex- 
plorers. Marquette, like Livingstone, is seen to be actuated by 
religious motives in exiling himself from his native land; Joliet, as 
a trader, was motivated by the same impulses which sent the 
Phoenician merchants and, long afterwards, the explorers of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries on long and hazardous voyages. 
In searching for natural highways into the interior of America, the 
child finds the Mississippi and the St. Lawrence as he found the 
Nile, Niger, Congo, and Zambezi in his study of Africa. He can, 
therefore, compare the American rivers with those of Africa, the 
Indians with the Negroes, and the degree of civilization of tribes 
in America with that of other peoples he has studied. The isolation 
of the early pioneer and his means of getting his furs to the sea- 
coast, his tools, weapons, manner of living, etc., are brought out. In 
imagination the child sees the frontier life develop into a thriving 
village with need of a local government, system of taxation, im- 
provements, etc Through this discussion he is guided to compre- 
hend simple forms of civic politics, so that the paved and sewered 
streets, the policemen, the aldermen, and the mayor, with all of 
whom he has been somewhat familiar, have now more definite parts 
in the social world. . . . 

The study of the French explorers is followed by a brief account 
of the explorers who gave England a claim to land in America. 
Then a study of typical American colonies is begun, Virginia as a 
southern colony, Massachusetts as a northern one. The church and 
the state as institutions come in now as parts of the social life, and 
efforts toward religious and political freedom underlie the life of 
the people. With the child, as with the colonists, the first question 
was always how did the people in the new land live. Recognition 
was always given to the fact that they could not live independently 
of the civilization from which they came. . . . An attempt was 
made to get the children to eliminate those conveniences of civiliza- 
tion with which they are familiar; to realize how it would seem 
to live in America without a single railroad, steamboat, or road of 

Laura L. Runyon, The Teaching of Elementary History in the Dewey 
School, Thesis, Graduate School Arts and Literature (University of Chi- 
cago, June, 1906). 


any kind except the Indian trails and rivers; to be dependent upon 
England for sugar, vinegar, tea, coffee, etc*; to imagine how it would 
seem to have no fuel except wood, no means of lighting a fire ex- 
cept flint and steel; to have no oil for lamps, no cattle from which 
to get milk and butter; and to have to build houses of logs, since 
there were no sawmills. The children discussed the new conditions 
of life that must be met, then read the account to see if their sup- 
positions were correct. They discovered that England had to learn 
by experience the art of colonization. . . . 

A vivid description of the settlement of Virginia and the motives 
which led to it was followed by a discussion of why things were as 
the historian describes them, whether the starving time was due 
solely to the "community of goods" system and consequent idleness 
on the part of the gentlemen who came to find gold, or whether it 
might not be accounted for in part by the lack of knowledge of soil 
and farming and the difficulties of clearing ground with the in- 
adequate methods of the time. In the story of the development of 
the first permanent English colony the child learns more than mere 
facts. In considering the life of John Smith, or any other hero of 
the early times, he sees a whole life in perspective. He has had little 
actual experience with people that will aid him in judging char- 
acter, but in the study of characters in history the motive of action 
and the results stand out prominently. Youth with its conditions 
and age as it has worked out its life are brought together. Thus the 
lives of historical personages bring the child into contact with the 
experiences of long life. Such character study is made in its natural 
setting as the child images the life of the people and the times. That 
these persons studied are ancestors of himself and his friends gives 
a deeper interest in the work. As he identifies Himself with the 
colony, he appreciates those who help on and is indignant with 
those who hinder progress; and this helping or hindering, he com- 
prehends, is not a mere question of willing, but depends upon 
what a man is. Therefore, his conception of his own social world 
becomes clearer, and he begins to get a glimpse of the dose net- 
work which binds each individual to every other. 

The study of colonial history, therefore, furnished only the carry- 
ing medium for the deeper and more universal study of the adapta- 
tion of a civilized people to the primitive conditions of a new 
environment, the study of character, and the training of judgment 
In these early days the prototype of our democratic form of gov- 
ernment was worked out, and the child who is just beginning to be 
interested in the city and national elections is able to comprehend 
how they began. He is studying the life of a people, the problems 
they had to face and how they succeeded. He constantly contrasts 
the past with his own life and gets deeper understanding of the 


present. He finds the meaning for much of his present life in the 
past and, hence, is constantly reading into his daily life the new 
value derived from his study. In New England, the colonial question 
has a different phase from Virginia in the religious reasons which 
induced the Pilgrims and Puritans to leave their native land and 
seek homes in a new country. Commercial products in New England 
were different from those in Virginia, because of the difference in 
latitude and physiographical conditions. . . . 

The general plan was for the class to discuss a situation and 
decide from their point of view as colonists what would be best to 
do next, either from the teadier or books, to discover just what was 
done, then to decide what probably would be the effect of the 
action or decision, and finally to find out what the actual result was 
as stated in historical records. This method of attacking history is 
similar to that of science. There is first the recognition of conditions, 
an attempt to relate the situation to those previously studied, next 
an hypothesis as to the effect of manipulation of conditions, then a 
study of the effect, and then generalization of results. It was found 
that the physiographical conditions of a country are largely re- 
sponsible for its industries. The New England farmers had discov- 
ered that their barren hills furnished pasture for sheep and cattle, 
and that cattle and wool were readily exchanged in the West Indies, 
together with fish, for molasses, sugar, etc. And molasses helped to 
make rum, which could be sold for gold (a rare article in the 
colonies) to the slave trade-ships. England had by law prevented 
this trade. The fact that the laws could only be partially enforced 
did not remove the irritation they caused. . . . To understand this 
irritation, it is necessary to recall the stages of development of 
manufactures before the Revolution. Industries were carried on in 
the home and gave each family an opportunity to make a little 
money. In their study of textiles the children worked out the part 
invention played in the various steps in the manufacture of cloth 
and were, therefore, able to comprehend the change that would 
come with the beginning of those inventions which brought in the 
factory system and made possible the rapid growth of manufactories 
at the close of the Revolution. 

The ten-year-old children (Group VII) in the experimental first 
years of the school had the same work as Group VI. In the revised 
program for this age the American history of the year before was 
continued, taking up the French and Indian War and the Revolu- 
tion. The amount of ground covered and the method of treat- 
ment varied in different years. For two successive years the group 
spent the entire year on American history and covered part or all 
of the Revolutionary War period. One year the group spent six 
months on this work, omitting the Revolution and studying the 



connections of American and European life. With this group the 
center of thought and study was focused on the ethical and scien- 
tific side of the struggle. 

Group VIII (eleven years) was in a transitional period. The sub- 
ject which seemed to fit this period was the history of colonization 
by European countries. The attempt was made to give to this 
group the same balance and completeness of world view as that 
gained by the eight-year-old children in the study of the Phoenicians 
and early world explorers. In each of these years the effort -was 
made to help the children gather together the knowledge of the 
two preceding years and grasp its significance as a whole in larger 
relations. Accordingly, the development of the American colonies 
was considered from an European point of view. England, France, 
and Spain were studied as countries which attempted colonization 
in the New World, in the East Indies, Africa, and Australia. The 
methods and aims in claiming and holding territory, the character 
of the settlements, and the connections with the mother country 
were taken up. A comparison was made of the colonies established 
by one country in different parts of the world (as England's colonies 
in America, India, Africa, and Australia). The conflicts of different 
countries over land claims, and the working out of some principles 
of international law were discussed, and a comparison of the differ- 
ent national methods of establishing and controlling colonies made. 
It was necessary to compare climates, to realize the physiography 
of the different regions, the industrial products possible, and the 
trade routes open for exchange with other countries. The study also 
brought out the knowledge of new products and the necessity of 
dealing with larger areas, larger masses of people, and new condi- 
tions. The settlement by European countries of colonies in America 
brought the children back from their excursion into world history 
and geography and the study of the backgrounds of the colonists 
to America and her problems in the Revolutionary period. 

Group IX, at twelve years, took up the colonies just before the 
Revolutionary period, the formation of the Constitution, and the 
westward expansion of the new Union and its gradual acquisition 
of territory. 

Group X (thirteen years) was believed to be ready to deal, not 
with social life in general nor social life that is familiar, but with 
certain thoroughly differentiated, peculiar types of social life, the 
special significance of each, and the particular contribution each 
has made to world history. The plan, accordingly, was to follow 
chronological order to a large extent, to begin with the ancient 
world about the Mediterranean basin and the contribution the 
various ancient peoples had made to social life, art, and industry, 
and to guide the child through European history and the move- 


ments of peoples in territorial expansion to the peculiar and dif- 
ferentiating factors of American history. This plan was never 
carried into practice, however, in its entirety. For two years this 
group had no history, as they were absorbed and occupied with 
building the club-house. Another year, because of gaps in history 
training, the group made a thorough review of American history, 
using McMaster's School History as a textbook. 4 

Group XI (fourteen and fifteen years) in the last years of the school 
studied Roman history from the point of view of the formation of 
a political state. The starting point was the play of Julius Caesar, part 
of college requirements. 


The children who had followed the regular work of the 
school had spent one year on social occupations, one on primi- 
tive life, one on explorations and discoveries, one on Chicago 
and the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies, one on the 
union of the colonies and the Revolution, one half-year on 
American history from the European point of view, one half- 
year on the formation of the American Constitution, the ac- 
quisition of new territory in the westward expansion, and the 
industrial development up to 1830, and one year on history 
review in preparation for college board examinations or on 
Roman history. The average time the younger groups spent on 
history was two and one half hours a week; that of the older 
groups was one and one half hours a week. The successful 
practices of each succeeding year became the revised program 
for the next year. Thus each year's work was the produc of 
repeated experiments and finally resulted in the general plan 
outlined above. 

A report of the work and method of another group and 
teacher follows: 5 

The method employed in conducting classes was generally that 
of conversation and discussion. Facts and conditions were pre- 
sented, making the life of the time under consideration as real as 
possible. When the children understood the conditions of the life, 

* These children had studied Roman history at eleven when they be- 
gan Latin. 

s Georgia F. Bacon, "History," Elementary School Record, November, 


the problems of the time naturally presented themselves, and the 
class endeavored to find a solution. It was an interesting fact that 
the more the class lived in the time the more certain it was to find 
the same solution to the questions of the day as the people who 
actually worked them out. Young children like the detail which is 
necessary for this sort of work; they like to dwell for a long time 
on an event; they like to walk around it, mentally viewing it from 
all points and asking numberless questions until the picture stands 
distinct in the mind. The ideal way of teaching history to little 
children is to allow them to make whatever approach they wish. 
To do this the teacher must be well acquainted with her subject, 
well equipped with facts, and must have in mind a definite thing 
to be taught. Her real opportunity to guide lies in her suggestive 
answers to their questions, or in helping the children to make their 
own answers. By this process they gain not only an extensive but 
an intensive view. One great difficulty in this method is the lack 
of books that enter sufficiently into detail. 6 Even children feel this; 
one child complained: "The books don't tell enough about any- 
thing so you really know it. They say a little about this man, or 
that one, and then leave it and take up something else." The books 
of Alice Morse Earl meet this demand for fine detail in colonial 
history in a satisfactory manner. 

With very young children the teacher furnished the positive in- 
formation. As soon as the pupils were able to read, however, they 
were sent to books to look up the necessary facts. Generally, with 
older pupils each was asked to report on a different point and thus 
contribute to the building up of the whole. This provided a raison 
d'etre to the recitation. Sometimes the lessons were carried on so 
that the children ran aground until they could get certain informa- 
tion, and the gathering of this information constituted the prepa- 
ration for the next lesson. At other times the teacher gave out a 
number of points to be looked up for discussion the following day. 
In class the interchange of thought, the additions and criticism, 
cleared up the ideas and fixed them firmly in mind. If a book 
was found which summed up a period, it was read as a review, 
after the material had been worked over in class as indicated above. 
In United States history, Fiske's School History answered this pur- 
pose admirably with children over eleven years of age. 

The interest of children of twelve and thirteen in historical 
novels led to the belief that biography could be used with great 
profit. . . . The experiment was tried to a certain extent with a 
class in United States history. Each child selected a prominent man 
of Revolutionary times, made a study of his life and reported on 
the part he played in the Revolution. 

6 This is no longer true. 



A child is a natural hero worshipper. He begins by placing his 
parents on a pedestal; later, the school companion who can per- 
form the greatest feat replaces these. As his horizon broadens, his 
heroes become men of national repute, for the most part military 
or naval heroes whose deeds he can appreciate. ... It is well, then, 
that the hero should be of the right sort to inspire him. This, 
history can provide, as it deals for the most part with those who 
have held high ideals and have possessed strength of character to 
carry them out. In this study of characters in relation to their 
physical and social environment, the child is impressed with the 
relative value of different traits and learns to appreciate those 
which ensure success of the lasting sort. It was often clearly demon- 
strated in this school that the ethical teaching of history had for 
its end the development of the child in the three directions in- 
dicated by Mr. Dewey in his definition of character: First, good 
judgment. This is the ability to take the permanent instead of 
the transient, the important instead of the trivial. It is the power 
to have perspective and proportion in considering the possibilities 
of experience. . . . Second, it involves emotional delicacy or re- 
sponsiveness to what is conceived as worth while or as good. . . . 
Finally, character means the possession of practical force, the power 
to assert one's convictions and aims amid difficulties and to persist 
in their execution against obstacles. 


As the school developed, certain occupations displayed 
greater continuity than others for adaptation to different age 
levels and were, therefore, of striking help in teaching science 
and history. The shop-work with wood and metals, because of 
limitations as to quarters and teachers, never developed the 
continuity possible with these materials. Cooking proved of 
enormous value in teaching the scientific method, although its 
historical bearings were always adequately developed. The 
textile occupations were found quite perfectly adapted to show 
the historical development of an industry fundamentally im- 
portant to daily living. The detailed record of how this oc- 
cupation was used educationally in the school is therefore 
given in this account of the history matter of the curriculum. 

The history of work, what people did to get a living, was a 
main theme of the school curriculum. It provided a continu- 
ous story, capable of unlimited extension into many fields of 


knowledge. Shorter projects grew out of it naturally and in 
turn led on to others, all giving sustenance and value to the 
whole. The test of a subject for study was the number of its 
possibilities not only for continuing but for enlarging experi- 
ence. Did it lead to a next step? Deference to this criterion 
gave a continuity to the school's curriculum which was one of 
its outstanding characteristics. 

As the result of a good deal of experimenting from year to 
year, the various -activities of spinning, weaving, sewing, the 
making of clothing or other necessary or decorative household 
articles grew into a continuous study of various occupations 
concerned with the making of fabrics, known on the school's 
program as a course in Textiles. All of the activities of the 
school were occupations or related to occupations which are 
reproductions of or run parallel to forms of work carried on 
in all social life, whether of the present or of the past. One 
of their most important educational possibilities was that 
they furnished so many things in simple form that a child can 
do. More, perhaps, than any other household occupation, the 
course in textiles opened up many lines of interest to children 
of all ages and afforded more frequently than most courses, 
opportunity to each child for free practice in thought and 
action. Many facts of history, of science, and of geography 
naturally related themselves to its various phases. The how and 
why and where of developing human life centered easily and 
naturally around these activities of human living, and through 
taking part in them the ways of progress in material and social 
living grew plain to the participating children. It was, in fact, 
one of the most successful unifying agents of the whole ele- 
mentary program. It correlated history with science or with 
geography and stimulated the child's interest and effort to 
attain mastery of his skills in reading, writing, or measure- 

The fundamental point in the psychology of the controlled 
educational use of an occupation such as the spinning or the 
weaving was found to be that it maintains a balance between 
the intellectual and the practical phases of experience. As an 
occupation it is active or motor; it finds expression through the 


physical organs, the eyes, hands, etc. But it also involves con- 
tinual observation of materials and continual planning and 
reflection in order that the practical or executive side may be 
successfully carried on. Conceived thus, as an occupation, it 
should be carefully distinguished from work which educates 
primarily for a trade. 7 Its end is in itself, in the growth that 
comes from the continual interplay of ideas and their em- 
bodiment in action, and not in external utility. Great stress was 
laid upon personal experimenting, planning and reinventing, 
and upon the parallelism of the children's work with lines of 
historical and social development of the period. The first re- 
quires the child to be mentally quick and alert at every point 
in order that he may do the outward work properly. The second 
enriches and deepens the work performed by saturating it with 
values suggested from the social life which it recapitulates. 


The child, with his untried powers, his paucity of experi- 
ence, is in much the same attitude toward the world and toward 
life as was early man. Both are decidedly motor in their ac- 
tivity. In both there is a reservoir of motor energy, urgent for 
discharge upon their environment. Both are interested in 
objects and materials, not from a contemplative or theoretical 
standpoint, but from the standpoint of what can be done with 
them, and what can be got out of them. Primitive man mainly 
occupied himself with the direct problems of life food, fuel, 
shelter, protection. His concerns were the utensils, tools, instru- 
mentalities that secured him a constantly improving life. His 

T Mr. Dewey points out that "wherever the mastery of certain tools or 
the production of certain objects is made the primary end of manual train- 
ing, the educational value is lost. When, however, the child is given intel- 
lectual responsibility in his work to select materials and instruments that 
are most fit; if he has opportunity to think out his own model and plan 
of work, if he is led to perceive his own errors and find out how to correct 
them so far as he is able, his work has great educational value. Such work 
may be called an occupation because the maximum of consciousness is put 
into whatever is done." "The Psychology of Occupation," Elementary 
School Record, April, 1900. 


interest in nature was based upon its direct and indispensable 
relation to his own needs and activities. 

This suggested to those directing this experiment that an 
important educational task might be to get hold of the es- 
sential underlying attitude which the child has in common 
with primitive man and give it such play and expression that, 
avoiding the errors and wanderings of his forefathers, he may 
come to the ends and realities toward which, after all, primi- 
tive man was struggling. In developing his idea of this task, 
Mr. Dewey points out that there is a fundamental and im- 
portant difference between the two. Necessity, the pressure 
of getting a living, was upon the savage. The child is, or 
should be, protected against economic stress and strain. The 
expression of energy takes, in his case, a form of play, play 
which is not amusement, but the intrinsic exhibition of in- 
herent powers so as to exercise and develop them. Accordingly, 
while the value of the motor activities of the savage was found 
chiefly in the external result, in the game that was killed or 
the fish that was caught, and only incidentally in a gain of 
skill and insight, with the child the exact reverse is the case. 
With him, the external result is only a sign, a token; it is just 
a proof and exhibition to himself of his own capacities. In it 
he comes to consciousness of his own impulses. He learns to 
know them through seeing what they can effect. But the 
primary interest and the ultimate value remain in the culture 
of the powers of action, obtained in and through their being 
put to effective use. 

Criticism has frequently been directed against using a year 
of the young child's life in a study of primitive conditions. The 
criticism has point only if primitive life is so isolated as to be 
treated as an end in itself, instead of as an opportunity for 
the study of the joint activity of social needs and intelligence 
in esthetic industrial invention. Speaking of this matter in 
connection with the use of textiles as a continuous course 
throughout the program, the director of the school wrote as 
follows: 8 

s John Dewey, "The Psychology of Occupation," Elementary School 
Record f April, 1900. 


The study of primitive forms of spinning and weaving is given 
in connection with the primitive history to illustrate further the 
life of people whose mode of living is simple and in direct contact 
with nature. This study also presents a craft which has an intimate 
place in the daily life of primitive people. 

The suggestion has been made that present conditions of manu- 
facture might more profitably present a study of textiles than a re- 
turn to unused methods. The advantage of returning to these 
earlier methods, aside from giving a richer content to the period 
of history the child is concerned with, is that they exhibit an im- 
portant industry of today reduced to its simplest terms. The exist- 
ing forms of the industry of textiles are too complex in process, in 
the forms of the machines, and in organization, for the children, 
to comprehend; whereas in primitive conditions we find only the 
essential elements of the industry. Non-essentials are eliminated; 
basic principles are clear and definite; the child deals first-hand 
with raw materials. With this concrete background of experience it 
becomes comparatively easy for children to understand modern 
machine production. 

The child realizes the conditions of the period by reconstructing 
them with materials naturally used at that time. These are of such 
a nature that the child can reinvent processes and implements 
used. The dramatic instinct is appealed to in acting out the life 
and occupations, the creative or artistic desire to carry a project 
to its end. The child's joy in doing what other people have done 
finds an outlet, and meanwhile he gains power in handling ma- 
terials and in controlling processes. These impulses and experi- 
ences are realized in the finished product, which holds the child's 
interest throughout. The spinning and weaving are for the purpose 
of providing blankets for the primitive family and are done in a 
manner appropriate to the limitations of its life. The child also 
realizes in the progress of his work the artistic impulses of these 
primitive peoples, which are recalled in his own quaint designs 
and color combinations. Such material is selected as will give pleas- 
ing results. In other words, the finished product should be, so far 
as possible, beautiful. From the child's point of view there should 
be nothing in it to offend or interfere with his judgment of what 
is appropriate. Above all it should contribute something to his 
standard of judgment of things of an artistic nature. 

What is here said about conditions of manufacture in one in- 
dustry is true not only of industry in general, but of forms of social 
organization as well. In working out the different processes in- 
volved in making cloth, in using materials and implements sug- 
gested by necessity, and in observing the results reached by people 
of the past, children realize the advance made in methods of work 
and can readily understand the meaning of industrial organization 


in its simplest forms. This step precedes a more fruitful and con- 
crete study of the later phases of the industry; that is, of the house- 
hold and domestic period which is richly illustrated in early colonial 
life. This again is followed by a study of the transition period, the 
era of inventions in England in the eighteenth century, which in 
turn indicates economic conditions leading to factory organiza- 
tion. The study of each phase of industry is simplified by following 
its natural development and by its coincidence with history which 
provides the social setting. It has a further advantage in that it can 
be adapted to each period of the child's development. He is himself 
advancing by easy stages of such a nature as enable him to com- 
prehend cause and effect in the organization of the particular phases 
of the industry he is pursuing. 

It was a matter of common experience in the school that 
when activities were undertaken in the simple crude setting 
of imagined primitive life, it was possible and natural to 
put the children in touch with raw materials. They thus 
learned by experience to prepare them for use in this work. 
The educational use of this was most apparent in a course in 
basketry which was given in the school as a part of the textile 

9 The children sought for, discovered, and experimented with na- 
tive grasses and with those of many other localities. This awak- 
ened an interest in their own environment and, by contrast, in 
that of other localities. In such a course the care and preparation 
of the grasses carry the child to a further appreciation of their 
quality and beauty than he gets from a mere understanding of 
their application. In drying them their constant change and variety 
of color suggests different modes of working toward securing whole 
series of colors. Through the greens, browns, and yellows which 
naturally appear, the child may be led to vary his process in such 
a way as to secure infinite numbers of shades of all these colors. . . . 
The finished product is, perhaps, crude compared with the basket 
or mat made with prepared material, but what the child gets from 
it is infinitely more worth while. The products contribute to an 
appreciation of nature, and through the control of nature's ma- 
terial he realizes the pleasure of artistic creation. It has brought 
something into the life of the one who made it, has contributed 
to his own experience. . . . 

9 Althea Harmer, "Primitive Textile Work in the Laboratory School," 
The Elementary School Teacher, June, 1903. 


Continuous throughout the whole elementary period, this 
course in textiles, like that in cooking, represented the possi- 
bilities of such an activity as a carrier for facts. Freighted as 
it was with innumerable possibilities for extension into the 
field of the fine arts and of human relationships, it became in 
the hands of a very gifted and highly trained teacher one of the 
main avenues for the extension of knowledge, the develop- 
ment of skill in expression and creative ability, and an in- 
creased appreciation of esthetic beauty and the meaning of 
social values and standards. The story of its use in the school, 
as told by the teacher who guided its developing activities, 


In every community the greater number of people are engaged 
in the industries of providing food, clothing, and shelter. Indus- 
tries largely affect the social life of a community, and the social 
life its history. The textile industries have been chosen as a type 
of industry which can be studied in the school-room for illustrat- 
ing this effect on social life and history. 

Under primitive conditions the spinning and weaving are in the 
first stages of development; skins, furs, and matted fibers are used 
for clothing. At a later period each home becomes its own pro- 
ducer; clothing, from the raw material to the finished garment, is 
made by some member of the family. Even in this period there 
is a division of labor in the hand-work, giving to each member of 
the family the task he can do best. In the maiding of woolen cloth, 
for example, the younger members cleaned and carded the wool; 
the women spun the yarn; the men washed and sheared the sheep 
and usually did the weaving, while the mother made the doth 
into garments for the family. 

Out of the household developed the so-called domestic system. A 
master-workman, with a small capital, bought wool from a dealer, 
distributed it among the families in the village to be carded, spun, 
and woven. He collected the cloth and carried it to town to sell 
at a profit. The merchant was then separated from the manu- 

With the introduction of machines and more specialization, the 
domestic system gradually grew into the factory. Weavers first took 

10 Althea Harmer, "Textile Industries," Elementary School Record, April, 


their wool to the factory to be carded by machine; later the spin- 
ning was done in the factory, weaving still remaining a home in- 
dustry. The work was controlled by a capitalist and done under 
inspection in the homes of weavers. The weavers were, in conse- 
quence of this system, obliged to leave the country and congre- 
gate around the village spinning mills. The power used in running 
the mills also affected conditions of manufacture. Factories run by 
water-power were scattered through the country along the banks 
of rivers and small streams. With the use of steam-power, factory 
life concentrated in large cities near centers of trade. Large capital 
was invested; machines were invented and improved; and finally 
the present factory system was introduced. 

This is a brief statement of the industrial history about which 
the work of the children centers. Three stages of development were 
selected because of their connections with the history work, and be- 
cause the materials and implements involved in the different 
processes are of such a nature that the children could make their 
own deductions from simple experiments. They were able to carry 
out the whole process from the handling of the fiber in its natural 
condition to the woven cloth. 

The value of the child's social education lies in his gradual 
growth in knowledge of the meaning of the simplest forms of in- 
dustrial organization. He can follow each period of development 
when he himself is at such a stage of social advancement as to 
readily comprehend causes and their effects. A child who is able 
to rediscover and carry out from beginning to end the whole ma- 
terial process of an industry is also able to organize it on the social 
side. Step by step from the primitive through the household and 
domestic stage and, dramatically, even through the factory stage, 
he is able to work out its lines of organization. As the course de- 
velops, three stages become apparent. In the primitive stage, 
working from the inventive side the children get a knowledge of 
raw materials, a technical skill in handling them. They see the 
value of implements and invent mechanical devices for converting 
the raw materials into cloth. Beginning with primitive implements 
the distaff, spindle, and loom each step made is traced out, and 
the mechanical advantage gained in the application of the force 
used becomes clear. The household and domestic stage coincides 
with the colonial period. Here the educational value is in the 
broad, historical background furnished, and emphasis is laid on the 
social side. Attention is directed to the influence of occupation on 
community life, the growth of trade and trade centers and the 
manner in which these have shifted and developed, to the concen- 
tration of industries as conditioned by environment, and the climate 
and soils of areas where raw materials are produced. A general 


view is sought of routes of trade and means of transportation in 
the development of commerce. 

In the factory stage emphasis is laid upon the invention of ma- 
chines, showing the utilization of the forces in nature which give 
increased production. A review is made of machines from primitive 
times to the present. The mechanics of each are worked out, and a 
mathematical calculation is made of the amount of work done by 

A study of different fabrics due to the structure and nature of 
fiber is made, determining texture, hydroscopic nature, relation to 
warmth, inflammability, etc. Chemical processes involved in the 
separation of waste material were worked out in the preparation of 
raw material, the scouring, dyeing, and steaming. 

Since space does not permit a complete statement of the whole 
scheme, the primitive stage has been selected to show the method 
of work. As an introduction, seven-year-old children gather together 
what they know from experience of the difference in quality of 
four typical kinds of cloth wool, silk, cotton, and linen. They ex- 
amine their own clothing, pull to pieces samples of similar ma- 
terials, and get an idea of different types of fiber. They select the 
fiber which they think was probably used by peoples in primitive 
conditions (that requiring the least preparation) and reach their 
conclusions by means of the following process. They unwind the 
silk from a cocoon, find it fine, delicate, and difficult to handle. 
They remove the cotton from the bolls and separate the seeds from 
the fibers a tedious task. Retted and unretted flax shows the long 
process of decay necessary to remove the fibers from the stalk. The 
wool, however, which can be twisted easily into thread with the 
fingers, is invariably selected. Each step in the process is so de- 
pendent on the nature of the material that the children can make 
the steps logically and independently. A fleece is examined, and 
methods of shearing talked over. The next step in order would be 
a visit to a sheep ranch. If this is impossible, the children can 
substitute photographs and stories of personal experiences. The 
relative quality of the different parts of the fleece is observed and 
also the duties of the wool sorter. Feltings, tarred locks, brands, 
and wool from lower parts of the legs are removed and spun into 
coarser yarn. The long, clean wool from neck, breast, and shoulders 
is made into yarn for the finer cloth. The back is usually full of 
burrs and more or less matted and requires care to get into shape 
for spinning. The children work out the process in detail by a 
series of experiments. Each child tries spinning both "scoured" and 
raw wool for the purpose of comparison. The oily fibers of the raw 
wool slip apart easily; the harsh, dry fibers of the scoured wool 
are matted together and are hard to manipulate. Thus they find from 


experience the reason for using unsecured wool for hand spinning. 

In order to spin wool in any quantity, burrs and dirt are first 
removed from the raw wool. One child suggested in order to facili- 
tate the process: "If you spread the fibers like a cobweb, the dirt 
will fall out." Three questions were raised in the course of the work: 
How would the fibers have to be arranged to make an even thread? 
How would dirt interfere? How would cross-fibers interfere with 
the evenness of the thread? At the end of the lesson the children 
formulated the purpose and method of carding. The clean, fluffy 
mass of wool was drawn out in a long * 'sliver" one inch wide. Where 
thin places occurred, they fitted in loose strands of wool. This 
gave them a clearer idea of the interlocking of the wool, due to 
the wavy character of the fiber. Carding implements were worked 
out. The fleece, as a whole, and even raw wool were new to nearly 
all the children. Many questions were asked concerning it, such 
as: "What is the difference between hair and wool?" Wool and hair 
were examined under the microscope and sketches made of the 
microscopic appearance of the two, showing the rough, scaly sur- 
face of the wool. The children twisted the drawn-out sliver of wool 
to make a thread by rolling it between their fingers on the knee. 
When the sliver was too thick, the wool simply matted together; 
it would not lock to make a hard twisted thread. They tested the 
difference between matted wool and spun thread, experimented to 
find the greatest number of fibers which would spin without mat- 
ting, and finally gathered smooth twigs in an open lot near by and 
wound their spun thread on it to prevent tangling. 

The child easily discovers that when the end of the thread is left 
free and the twig is dropped, the twist is lost and the thread un- 
wound. He reasons that by twirling the twig in the opposite direc- 
tion the twig can be made to do the work he had previously done 
by rolling against his knee* He discovers also that when the twig 
is weighted with thread it draws out the carded wool and assists 
in the spinning. So the twig is weighted artificially with clay, stone, 
or wood, and the wheel is suggested with its use in balancing and 
giving greater speed to the spinning. The advantage of having 
the wheel in the shape of a disk is worked out by the children 
realizing that an uneven distribution of weight interferes with the 
smoothness of the motion of the spindle. 

The distaff and spindle were made in the shop, and each child 
practiced spinning a fine, smooth thread. They compared this with 
hand-spinning and showed that it took less time and labor to pro- 
duce the same amount of thread, many more fibers being made to 
interlock, and the thread more uniformly twisted. Thus, by com- 
parison, they were brought to realize the use of this first advance 
step in spinning. The thread was made rather fine for weaving. It 


was compared with the factory yarn, which was unraveled and found 
to consist of three and four strands. Separating these strands they 
found the twisted parallel fibers of wool. After having analyzed the 
structure of the thread in this manner, they prepared to make 
"three-ply" yarn of the thread they had spun. They worked out the 
idea that the strands would have to be spun together in the same 
manner as they had spun the yarn, that the various strands would 
have to be drawn out evenly, thus necessitating a frame on which 
the bobbins could revolve. 

The yarn was finally ready to be scoured and dyed. From previous 
experience the children knew the yarn would have to be in loose 
hanks to dye evenly. They wound the skeins about the backs of 
two chairs, one child delivering the yarn from the bobbin while 
another regulated it. They found it slow work and succeeded in 
making very small skeins. They decided to make something similar 
to the bobbin frame upon which to wind the skeins. Colonial reels 
were examined, and a simple one made in the shop. The yarn from 
the spindles was wound into loose hanks for dyeing. The yarn 
was scoured and dyed in the science periods. 

As a preparation for weaving, cloth was examined and its struc- 
ture and texture compared with the mats and baskets they had 
previously woven. The fact that weaving of materials that did not 
require spinning must have long preceded the invention of spin- 
ning was shown in the following manner. The textile work of the 
primitive peoples of today was examined and found to consist 
chiefly of grasses and various other raw materials. The beaten 
bark or "tapa" of the Hawaiians was examined to show the inter- 
lacing of the fibers. The probable discovery of the shepherd who- 
found the cast fleece matted together after the exposure to rain 
and sun was told as a story. The effect of water and heat on wool 
was tried and in some cases resulted in a fine piece of felt. The 
weaving of a rush mat from the chance placing of the reeds, form- 
ing a sort of pattern on the clay floor of a primitive hut, was given 
as a probable origin of pattern weaving. The children gave the 
cocoon, the bird's nest, and the spider's web as instances of weav- 
ing. In the cloth the interlacing was found to be regularly adjusted 
into two sets of threads, respectively "warp" and "woof." Each 
child explained his way of constructing a loom. Two rods held 
the warp in position; two cross-rods kept it stretched; and a weav- 
ing needle was used to insert the woof. The woof and warp were 
made of the thread the children had spun. . . . 

The inspection of different fabrics and fibers for the sake of 
forming a conclusion regarding their adaptability to certain pur- 
poses gives training to the children's powers of observation. These 
are ideal occasions for both sense training and discipline in thought. 


The weakness of ordinary lessons in observation, calculated to train 
the senses, is that they have no outlet beyond themselves and hence 
no necessary motive. In the natural life of the individual and the 
race, there is always a reason for sense observation. There is always 
some need coming from an end to be reached that makes one look 
about to discover and discriminate whatever will assist him. Nor- 
mal sensations operate as clues, as aids, as stimuli in directing ac- 
tivity in what has to be done; they are not ends in themselves. . . . 

Again this method involves the exercise of judgment. The ability 
to think and the method of thinking are part and parcel of all the 
reinventing and the rediscovering. Thinking does not occur for its 
own sake; it is not an end in itself. It arises from the need of meet- 
ing some difficulty, in reflecting upon the best way of overcoming it, 
and thus leads to planning, to projecting mentally the end to be 
reached, and deciding upon the steps necessary. The tool and method 
of going to work are always seen to be dependent upon the material 
on the one side and the result to be attained on the other. These be- 
ing given, to find the third term is the problem, surely as logical an 
exercise as any in geometry. It has the added advantage of being 
concrete and of calling the constructive imagination into play. . . . 

All of the activities correlate with the historical work and give a 
background which makes the later study of economics much more 
fruitful and concrete. Similar connections are made with the nature 
study as regards the materials used and the plants and animals pro- 
ducing them, with physical geography as regards conditions of soil 
or climate and the sources of the raw materials, and with commercial 
geography as regards the manufacture and distribution of the fin- 
ished products. 

Manual construction is continuously required. Each child carries 
out his idea into concrete form. The shop becomes the laboratory 
where he manufactures his spindle or his loom, and the color or 
design of the working plan all enlist the aid of the art department. 

All of these aspects meet in and radiate from the continuous and 
direct activity or occupation of the children themselves. From the 
standpoint of the child there is but one thing going on. He is 
occupied with making things, with weaving, designing, cutting; he 
is busy doing something which appeals alike to feeling, perception, 
imagination, judgment, and manual skill. All of his power and 
emotions are utilized in an activity which interests him. 




JLHE third group of studies in the Laboratory School's 
curricular classification included reading, writing, the more 
technical forms of measurement, and the various arts of ex- 
pression. The children of the school gradually awoke to the 
need and grew into an appreciation of the use of these various 
forms of intellectual communication and inquiry. This need 
and appreciation were met in and developed out of the daily 
activities of their steadily enlarging program. As the physical 
organism increases in size and ability to function only as it 
takes in and assimilates food suitable to its needs, so mental 
growth occurs only as knowledge is used in action to enlarge 
the meaning of action and further its end. Judgment to select 
and skill to use knowledge are essential to its swift assimila- 
tion into experience. In the immature child, certain original 
impulses are available, and the growth of the child depends 
upon their exercise. 1 The social impulse shows itself in con- 
versation, personal intercourse, and communication. Gesture 
and language are the simplest form of the social expression of 
a child. They arise out of need to communicate something 
about a social situation. Language, therefore, in these early 
stages of growth, is used primarily as a means of social com- 
munication and not for the expression of thought. 
The instinct to self-expression in action is one of the earliest 

i These are roughly classified by Mr. Dewey as: (i) the social, (2) the 
constructive, (3) the investigative, and (4) the expressive. This classification 
he still further simplifies by finding that, in the process of development, 
(3) and (4) grow out of (2) and (i). 



of the developing impulses. The dawn of social consciousness, 
however, follows soon, and with it there is born the desire to 
share, to tell about the results of activity. These may be daubs 
of color on paper, a weird clay man, a house of blocks, or the 
story of a day's doings, but each in turn is the concrete embodi- 
ment of the child's idea. Under the stimulus of this desire to 
communicate to others he searches for and welcomes all ways 
and means of letting others know what he has done and of 
finding out a still better way of doing. This then is the psy- 
chological moment to teach him the means for such sharing of 
his ideas. 


Beginning with a hit-and-miss method, the subsequent end- 
less experimentation of a baby in producing sounds is rein- 
forced by the selective response of adults. He gradually elim- 
inates the sounds which are not language and builds up, 
through imitation, a word vocabulary in which each word is 
always related to an actual object or situation. He retains those 
sounds or words which bring him food, comfort, and the con- 
dition of play which he desires. Similarly, he later patterns 
his sentence structure after that of the adults in the spon- 
taneous conversation of the home, and "I" replaces "me" after 
many efforts. 

In this school, which was in character a continuation of the 
home, each recitation was preeminently a social meeting place 
where organized spontaneous conversation went on along dif- 
ferent lines. It was the social clearing-house in which experi- 
ences and ideas were exchanged and subjected to criticism, 
where misconceptions were corrected and new lines of thought 
and inquiry set up. 

Although the consecutive study of the place and function 
of language in this school, either oral or written, was never 
summarized, certain observations as to the child's interests and 
attainments in verbal and written expression can be made: 
first, as to the incidental use of all verbal or written symbols 
as forms of social expression, particularly in the first stage of 


growth and In the second, as to the gradual development by the 
child of conscious recognition of need for and skill in the formu- 
lation and use of the rules of grammatical construction and of 
those traits which give literary distinction and form to writing 
as the expression of thought and emotion. 

Continual contact with actual experience stimulated the 
children to a full and free use of language. Each child always 
had a variety of material and facts in his mind to talk about, 
and his language constantly became more refined and full be- 
cause controlled by realities. Little by little the written symbols 
for the words already familiar to his tongue and ear were in- 
troduced, still in natural relation to experience. By them the 
child found he could keep track of his work from day to day; 
by them he could give to others the results of his own special 
activity; and by them his own consciousness was widened. He 
thus himself discovered the use of written language in its 
natural relation to experience. 

The occasions in which his attention was directed to form 
in either spoken or written language were the same as those 
in actual life, situations outside of the school. They were the re- 
ports of work to the general assembly, for the newspaper, or 
for an individual contribution to a group story or play. At 
such times of formulation and composition, hints were given 
as to clarity in sentence structure, as well as the use of climax 
and interest. The child thus became conscious of the structure 
of the sentence, of the place and use of modifying words in 
phrases, and of the position of the latter in the sentence, and 
of the need for paragraph form. Finally he came to see that 
a unified structure which has clarity and climactic interest 
depends upon order and sequence of the material. In the oral 
delivery of these contributions, help in proper enunciation, 
posture and interpretation found its natural place. Expert di- 
rection was welcome because the children felt the need of being 
able consciously to correct their faults and gain in ability to 
express their ideas by voice and gesture. 

The teaching of language was at all times a subject of dis- 
cussion and concern for all teachers. It was of untold advantage 
that the teaching was never divorced from reality. The chil- 


dren's records were the accounts of their daily experiences and 
showed unusual clarity and a certain literary flavor. An ap- 
preciation of the color quality inherent in words was cultivated 
and developed by constant dramatization of situations and 
characters. This was helped on by the enjoyment of good 
stories, which were used sparingly, as they should be, and were 
of such character that they reinforced and thus became an 
integral part or expression of the children's own experiences. 
Conversation was the means of developing and directing, 
experiences and enterprises in all the classrooms. The small size 
of the groups made individual contribution to the group ex- 
perience possible. Each day's recitation was a debate, a dis- 
cussion of the pros and cons of the next step in the group's 
activity. The comparative ease with which these children were 
able to debate in their subsequent secondary and college ex- 
perience showed the worth of this type of recitation. Initiative 
and freedom in any situation were characteristics of the older 
children of this school. Language was to them all a tool by 
which they could convey to others the effect produced on 
them by some fact, event, or social situation. It had come to- 
be more than a means of social communication; it was a 
medium of expressing thought. In the secondary period, there- 
fore, these children were ready to enter into a conscious analysis- 
of language as such and to generalize and formulate rules which 
would help them attain the skill demanded by literary tastes* 
and artistic standards. 


The instinct to measure by counting, which is also a form of 
communication, springs to consciousness in response to a felt 
need in the social situation of a little child. It is continually 
reinforced by adults' repetitions of nursery rhymes, such as< 
"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe." By the time the four-year-old 
child arrives at school he has in his own experience a back- 
ground of contact and acquaintance with social and physical 
realities. Out of this fertile soil will grow his first concepts of 
the use of the symbols of language, quantity, or value. Just as- 


he has quite an extensive vocabulary and consciously uses it 
to supply his needs and express his crude ideas, so he has some- 
thing of a conception of the use of numbers to evaluate his 
possessions (in the sense of knowing to a limited extent how 
many marbles he has). Of the meaning of numbers in its more 
technical and implicit meaning, that of measuring with meas- 
ured units, he has, as yet, no consciousness, just as he has, as yet, 
no conception of the use of language as a medium of expressing 
thought. The underlying psychology of language and number 
are, therefore, seen to be similar. Both are forms of intellectual 
communication with oral and written conventionalized symbols 
that stand for ideas. The use of both first arises out of the need 
to get over to some one else something important in the physi- 
cal or social situation. By conscious design the child met, in 
the school, a constantly increasing demand for the use of lan- 
guage and number symbols. In the latter, the idea of quantity 
in concrete form always preceded and accompanied the use of 
abstract number symbols. 

For the younger children the teaching of language and num- 
ber went on in relation to the daily activities of the child. The 
sub-primary child of four or five, as he set the table for 
luncheon, at first laid down one spoon each for Mary, John, 
and Ellen. His next step, when standjpg by the silver basket, 
was to count out loud, "One, two, three, no! four, one for the 
teacher/' When, however, he replied to the teacher's question, 
"How many persons are coming to lunch?" by answering, 
"Four," and then, going to the silver basket, counted the right 
number of spoons, he showed that he had begun to use words 
as symbols. The importance of this appreciation by the child 
of the connection between the concrete situation and the 
symbol, the linking in his mind of the concrete situation to the 
symbol, cannot be over emphasized. A child who has not made 
this connection often goes on repeating his "one, two," etc., up 
to eight or nine, with frequent omission of one or two of the 
series. This is because he does not comprehend the meaning 
of the enumeration, because he has never linked counting to 
a concrete situation where there is a need for counting. When 
"four" means to him not only four people, four spoons, etc., 


but means, in addition, a way of matching these unlike things 
through the agency of a number symbol common to both, he 
may be said to have begun to count. 

In his cooking at the school the child learned that one cup 
of flaked rice took one cup of water. He compared one cup of 
flaked rice with a granular cereal on a balance and found that 
the smaller bulk, but same weight of the latter also required one 
cup of water. When he found by measuring that he had one 
fourth cup of this cereal, it was not difficult for him to conclude 
that one fourth of a cup of a certain kind of cereal will take 
four times its quantity of water to cook properly. He then ex- 
perimented with another cereal and found that it requires only 
twice as much. His use of numbers in the two experiments- 
brings him to his first end, the ascertaining of the amount of 
water that both cereals require. He then compares the two and 
uses numbers as a means to express this comparison in symbolic 
form. He has now taken another step, passing to an apprecia- 
tion of the idea of ratio which is implicit in all numbers. 

This concrete manipulation of quantity included compari- 
sons of weights and distances, and so on, and was followed by 
a more definite use of the symbols of enumeration and rela- 
tion for the purpose of anticipating consequences and, there- 
fore, controlling results. 

From a qualitative judgment of amount the child progresses 
to a definite control of quantity through symbols. Still an- 
other step is made as the child learns the different kinds of 
measures. Instead of halving the length of string to find half 
of the garden (the method of the young child), the older meas- 
ured with the yardstick and divided the number by two. In 
one activity he uses the ruler. In another he must regulate his 
action by a unit of time. With the idea that his actions are 
controlled by a time-unit, he gets his first approach to the se- 
quence of on-going events, in home situations as well as in 
school. The youngest group visited the baker's shop, saw the 
oven and the utensils which were used in cooking. The head 
baker made some little cakes, while the children watched to 
get some idea of the process. They waited fifteen minutes to 
see them taken out, which gave the children a deeper interest 


in time and its measurement by the clock. They gradually 
discovered there was a time for everything, a time for work, a 
time for play, a time to sleep, and a time to eat. When the 
clock in the kindergarten said it was time to begin or stop 
work or play, it was a universal law to be obeyed by both 
teachers and pupils. When the question arose, "Can't I do 
just a few more?" the answer came, "But the clock says it is 
time to put the work away," and this was accepted without 
dispute. This conception of what time is functions so differ- 
ently at different ages that the stage at which he perfects 
different ideas needs more recorded observations by many 
teachers. Where activities of a child's environment are defi- 
nitely regulated by the time seasons, as in rural situations, the 
latter with their causes will be taught much earlier than with 
children not so situated. City children, isolated from nature, 
may get this knowledge through the importance of the calendar 
to a people whose activities they are studying. 

A child becomes interested not only in the origin of the sym- 
bols for number, but in measurement units of all kinds. 
Through his appreciation of primitive man's use of sun and 
moon as time measurers, he takes interest in his own calendar. 
This generally happens first in connection with something that 
intimately concerns him, such as his own birthday or the 
first day of school. His ability to read the clock, which has 
been progressing slowly, is usually perfected about this time. 
His ideas continually enlarge through his daily experience. 
Whereas once he measured his garden by the number of his 
own paces, he now begins to use the yardstick or the ruler to 
find how his patch compares with the length of his neighbor's. 
A study of the Phoenicians, who adapted and simplified 
through use the symbols of the scholarly Assyrians and Egyp- 
tians, gave the child of eight the historical basis of our present 
alphabets and numerical systems. At this age children begin, 
because of their needs, to grow eager for facility in ordinary 
number combinations. They gladly submit to drill in order 
to attain such facility. If they are allowed to discover for them- 
selves such things as the place of digits, tens, hundreds, etc., 
in our system of notation, they work out their own rules for 


adding and subtracting, multiplying and dividing. When a 
child in the school found it necessary to add % and % of a 
foot he proceeded in natural logical fashion from the known 
to the unknown. He knew one foot as 12 inches. He then con- 
sulted the ruler and saw that the % is 4 inches and that % is 
3 inches. Their sum he easily calculated as 7 inches or % 2 ^ a 
foot. Then, if ready for such abstractions, he would himself 
say that to add fractions they must be the same "kind of parts 
of anything." He was then ready to add a quarter and a half- 
dollar, usually by saying that a half is 2 quarters, so he has 
3 quarters. He was, however, often able to do this concretely 
for some time before he was able to state what is done when 
fractions are added. At this stage, he was given the terms 
numerator and denominator and understood that the figure 
above the line tells the number of parts taken, while the one 
below tells how many of these parts there are in a unit. As the 
work often involved the use of fractions the child liked this 
new and convenient tool. He did not have to go back to the 
ruler or the cup each time and count how much he had. The 
ability to abstract and formulate began gradually at about 
nine years of age. 

The hard-and-fast distinction between arithmetic and algebra 
was broken down in various ways, such as the use of letters to 
represent quantities when writing formulae for examples (base 
x rate = percentage (bxr = p). In early practice in weighing, 
the idea of an equation was given as a way of representing the 
drawing power of the earth on different objects. The earth- 
pull on an object on one side of the balance is equal to the 
earth-pull on a number of objects on the other (i. e., the 
weights) and was represented symbolically in series as x (the 
unknown weight) = a + b + c. 

As the children made simple machines, scales, a wheeled 
cart, a wheelbarrow, a potter's wheel, small and large looms, 
a pile-driver, a foot automobile, they formulated and made use 
of equations of ratios and proportion. This kind of concrete 
experience enabled them to identify the various kinds of levers 
in their machines. They studied the principle of the nut 
cracker, traced the invention of the wheeled cart, and discovered 


the advantage gained through the invention of the hub. They 
discovered the advantage of the wheelbarrow and the principle 
involved in gears, in clocks, and locks; they studied the use and 
transfer of energy in the treadle and spindle of a spinning- 
wheel or in the gear of a bicycle. All of this work was used 
as offering occasions for the child to investigate and discover 
for himself the everyday uses of mechanical principles in- 
volved in the various kinds of balances and pulleys and to 
point out the differences by the use of diagram and equation. 
The children continually used ratio with skill and apprecia- 
tion in demonstrating the relation of the diameter of wheels 
to the circumference or the laws of the three types of levers. 
Such use in genuine situations and with simple machines 
furthers a child's intellectual understanding of the compli- 
cated mechanisms and intricate arithmetical formulae used in 
work with the intricate forms of machines, which he sees and 
deals with later. 

Mechanical drawing was used in making compasses, and a 
simple astrolade, in calculating the hour circle and distances on 
a globe, and in finding latitude from the altitude of the north 
star. These problems served as an introduction to and use of 
intuitive geometrical demonstrations. 

To the mathematician, who has forgotten the way he came, 
it seems a long jump from the child's use of number in count- 
ing out his blocks, or in the control of his game, to the 
physicist's use of measurement in the construction of a work- 
ing theory of matter. To the psychologist and to the educator 
the need of number for control through its function of evalua- 
tion is die same for the child in his concrete world, as for 
the physicist in his. 

An historical study of the slow development of arithmetic 
will give guiding principles to the teacher of little children. 
Originating as a means of trade control, it passed slowly 
through the rule-otthumb period and has just culminated in 
the most modern of engineering exploits. When the teacher 
realizes how late in the race development abstraction occurs, 
he will be content to multiply endlessly the occasions to use 


number concretely in his dealings with young children. At all 
times, he must watch for the psychological time and place to 
introduce symbols and the opportunity to formulate generali- 

The recognition that the complicated formulae of the 
physicist as a means of valuation and control have evolved 
from a simple use of counting by the savage gave important 
educational implications for those directing this experiment. 
It gave confidence in the outcome of this approach to mathe- 
matical method. It eliminated the too frequent unintelligent 
and often blind following of historical details without refer- 
ence to their relation to the needs and demands of physical 
and social situations. With aid and under direction as he plays 
his games and makes his simple and more complex machines, 
a child can be led to understand and use the principles and 
formulae of control in the more and more abstract forms, 
which finally eventuate in the various algebraic and trigono- 
metric formulae and, at the college level, in differential func- 
tions and calculus. With such mathematical training, based 
on the appreciation of each step through concrete demonstra- 
tion, a student, as he passes from field to field in mathematics, 
is quite aware that he is simply using more and more refined 
tools to control the heterogeneous miscellany of the physical 
and social world. Always, at whatever stage, number was taught 
not as number but as a means through which some activity, 
undertaken on its own account, was rendered more orderly 
and effective. In this way it afforded insight into the ways in 
which man actually employs numerical relations in social life. 

On the whole the more direct modes of activity, the con- 
struction and occupational work, the scientific observation 
and experimentation, presented plenty of opportunities for the 
necessary use of reading, writing, spelling, and number work. 
These subjects, therefore, were not isolated studies, but were 
introduced as organic outgrowths of the child's daily experi- 
ence. The problem was always to take advantage of these op- 
portunities in a systematic and progressive way. When this 
was done successfully, the children needed to devote much less 


time to tool study than is usually the case. It was also found 
that at certain periods of their development the children 
enjoyed playing with symbols just as babies, learning to talk, 
play with words. At a later age when given accurate com- 
passes and ruler, children find similar pleasure in the possi- 
bilities of geometric design. 

There were mistakes and failures made in this new way of 
teaching the time-honored subjects. With certain groups of 
children the teaching of writing and reading was postponed 
too long, with the result that certain children had progressed 
intellectually so far that the belated learning of the symbols, 
which at an earlier period would have been enjoyed, was 
irksome. Such children often marked time, as it were, and only 
learned to read when a special interest stimulated them to the 
necessary effort. 

Experience repeatedly showed that in those studies where 
mastery of technique or special method was necessary, there 
was need for a periodic concentration and alternation in the 
time devoted to them. When a group, for example, found them- 
selves weak in a certain arithmetical operation or in language 
expression and, therefore, handicapped in their other work, 
work on this was emphasized until the children exhibited to 
their own satisfaction a power and skill sufficient to enable 
them to go ahead in an independent fashion. 

This method of teaching gave rise to the conviction that 
children should learn that mathematical expressions only cover 
a part of experience with physical things, that mathematics is a 
tool which fits only a certain kind of universe, and that its 
expressions cannot be used as a basis of the whole of experience* 
They should be aware that much is still unknown of mathe- 
matical relations, and that the latter leave other kinds of rela- 
tions untouched. They thus gain no concept that all experience 
is mechanical and mathematically measurable, but are left with 
many open doors through which individual thinking may pass. 
In conclusion, it is not too much to say that the children of 
this school used the symbols of language and calculation more 
intelligently and less mechanically than most, and with a cer- 
tain sense of power in their expression. 



The drama and literature, the music, modeling and paint- 
ing of the school program, all the expressive activities at all 
stages of growth, were the child's means of social intercourse, 
his modes of communication, as well as avenues for individual 
expression. As he developed in this carefully guided experi- 
ence, first steps grew into finer and fuller expressions of social 
and constructive impulses. It was the ideal and the hope of the 
school that all the developing play of productive and manipu- 
lating activities, the play which is not mere amusement or 
recreation, should become surcharged with joy and satisfac- 
tion in its performance and with such social and scientific 
meanings that this association, once made, should never be 

In a recent letter recalling memories of her Dewey School 
days, one of the older pupils of the school writes: 

To outsiders who did not understand what went on, the daily 
curriculum seemed a grand jubilee. Children apparently played 
through history and English classes, cooked through arithmetic and 
science hours, and so on. Surely no real study went on with such 
antics; surely no essentials of grammar grades and high schools were 
learned. Then, to a confused amazement, the supposed madcaps 
entered colleges and universities and acquitted themselves creditably 
with conventionally prepared students. 

This memory seems to indicate that the school work of those 
days was often like play, a freely productive sort of activity 
that filled the imagination and the emotions of the writer as 
well as her hands to such a degree that thirty years later she 
still thrills with its joyful memories. 

Drama played a large part in these activities. In the early 
years, the classroom work was often a continued play of the 
unfolding drama of human life. The children handled raw 
materials of many kinds and had the satisfaction of shaping 
them to their own planned ends. Under guidance these results 
grew into more and more finished products of greater mean- 
ing and artistic value. It has been well said that: 2 "Art is not 

2 John Dewey, "Culture and Industry in Education/' The Educational Bi- 
Monthly, Vol. i, No. i. 


an outer product nor an outer behavior. It is an attitude of 
spirit, a state of mind one which demands for its satisfaction 
and fulfilling a shaping of matter to new and more significant 
form. To feel the meaning of what one is doing and to re- 
joice in that meaning, to unite in one concurrent fact the 
unfolding of die inner life and the ordered development of 
material conditions that is art." 

The school seems to have had a groping faith that genuine 
artistic expression in any medium may grow out of the manual 
arts and carry on to their spiritual meaning many of the 
processes of everyday life. This did not mean that all art work 
was to be correlated in detail with the other work of the 
school, but that there was a spirit of union which gave vitality 
to the art, and depth and richness to the other work. It recog- 
nized that art work involves physical organs, the eye and hand, 
the ear and voice, however, ideally. As Mr. Dewey has some- 
where said, "It is something more than the mere technical skill 
required by the organs of expression; it involves an idea, a 
thought, a spiritual rendering of things, and yet it is other 
than any number of ideas by themselves, it is a living union o 
thought and the instrument of expression." It was dimly 
realized, therefore, that the artistic attitude is the ideal atti- 
tude of interest, and that if a child could be animated by such 
interest, he would bring forth results in his activities that 
would be accompanied by an enrichment of his intellectual 
and emotional life. As the woodwork, drawing, painting, music, 
language, or drama proved an aid in extending the meaning 
of what a child did and gave a motive to develop technique, 
it also enlarged into the realm of an artistic means of expres- 

It was always a hope that each child would enjoy every sub- 
ject studied at some, if not all, phases of its development and 
thus grow into something of a sense of its esthetic quality. This 
appreciation of the quality of a subject depends upon the stand- 
ards that the child, at one time or another, has formed of its 
value in his immediate experience. It also depends upon how 
the range of his inevitably limited direct experience has been 
enlarged and deepened in its meaning through language and all 


symbolic forms of intercourse with the similar experiences of 
others. As these connections multiplied, the children liked 
more and more to share the meaning of their activities and dis- 
covered that language was a good tool for telling about them. 
They also became more able and willing to listen sympatheti- 
cally to the accounts of others. Thoughts took form -in words. 
Certain words or arrangements of words expressed thoughts 
better than others and, when arranged in a certain order, ex- 
pressed it more clearly and more beautifully. Little by little be- 
cause its use was daily and hourly related to his living, the child 
came to realize that language was the medium, par excellence, 
for telling about his actions and thoughts. Step by step he woke 
to its inherent value and beauty. 


The need to formulate the meaning of their activities, either 
in conversation or in an oral or written report, in recipe or 
rule for procedure, in mathematics or in the laboratory, in 
verse for songs, or in dramatic form for formal plays, arose 
for the most part out of the actual situation of the classroom 
or the imagined ones of the historical times they were reliving. 
All actions, involving as they did constant communication of 
all sorts, developed great freedom of expression and inter- 
course. Conversations and discussions formed the basis out 
of which ability to debate developed. Oral reports grew to 
monologues and took on a vague similarity to the oration, 
while written reports from words and short sentences grew 
with enlarging horizons and developing ability and skill to 
essays, biographies, or stories. These also gradually took on 
the form of artistic expression. Because they formulated the 
meaning of each child's actual experience, they were often 
tinged with the flavor of his own imaginative interpretation 
and brought home to him, as to others, the vitality of his ex- 

Clarity and simple, forceful use of words were ideals sought 
for the children in their reports which were often reviews of 
the day's, the week's, or the term's work. Through the use of 


the school's printing-press by the older children, dictated re- 
ports of those children, not yet able to use the written sym- 
bols, were made available as reading lessons. These took on 
such form as: 

We can sew. 

Suppose you had no needle? 

"What would you do for clothing? 

Some boys say they would wear a goat's skin. 

The youngest children, for the most part, acted out their 
songs and stories, getting thus a clearer idea of them and a 
greater sympathy with the characters. These plays and stories 
continually increased in scope and content. The three- and 
four-year-olds, in their occupational plays such as that of the 
dry goods store, were usually content with the mere activity of 
buying and selling, without specifying what they wished to 
buy. At five years they carried out their plays in minute detail, 
and had the cashier, cash boys, clerks, bundle-wrappers, and 
a horse and delivery wagon, using the vocabulary and char- 
acteristic dramatic expressions. They bought only things found 
in dry-goods stores and often tried them on to see if they would 
fit. The dramas of Group IV (seven years) were of their history, 
the study of primitive life. 

It was found that when the children wrote their own read- 
ing lessons, their reading was purely memory work. So the 
teacher resorted to composing certain key sentences herself. 
With these to start from, the children supplied the background 
of detail, showing a great interest in the composition, changing 
the sentences when they were not euphonious or suggesting 
words that might sound better. On occasion, pauses were 
made to discuss the words under consideration and some for 
blackboard work in the building of words. When interest in 
such technique flagged, the composition was continued. The 
teacher 8 of seven-year-olds reported: 

The materials which were chosen for their reading lessons were 
taken chiefly from their history, with occasional changes to other 
subjects, shop-work, or cooking. It soon became evident that their 

8 Wynne Laskerstein. 


power to give a definite account of their work and their interest in 
doing it were in direct ratio to the degree of activity involved in 
the original lesson. It was often impossible to obtain a clear state- 
ment of their history, even on the day in which it had been pre- 
sented to them, and frequently different members of the group would 
give contradictory statements with regard to the most essential point. 
But whenever hand-work was the subject of discussion they recalled 
with comparative ease the desired details. 

A notably successful lesson was the result of a talk about the 
making of their looms. Sentences were put on the blackboard by 
the teacher as the children gave them and were read and reread by 
the class. A list was made of the new words, chiefly names of tools, 
and a drill upon these was given by acting out the uses of the 
various tools. Individual children were chosen to direct the action 
by pointing to certain words or to find on the blackboard the name 
of the tool which the others were using. The children were delighted 
with the lesson. The next day they were eager to write the new words 
and spent the entire period at the blackboard without signs of fa- 
tigue. They called this writing "putting the tools in their shop," 
and one boy insisted upon buying each tool from the teacher before 
he wrote its name, gravely proffering imaginary money and insisting 
that the tool be wrapped up in paper and duly delivered. 

* In the next quarter the reading for the group was based 
on the history work a study of primitive man. In the begin- 
ning much time was devoted to keeping a record of their 
study, which was printed by the older groups. Book covers 
were made, and the records were used as reading lessons. They 
then began to retell the story of Ab which one of the teachers 
had read to them. This extended from day to day. Much of it 
was dictated by the children. The language of the original 
story was drawn on freely, but the thought was so padded with 
their own imaginative thinking that in the end it came to be 
a new story of their own. Additional characters were intro- 
duced who operated in different situations according to the 
children's original plan. The story speaks for itself, indicating 
a growing appreciation and increasing skill of expression. In 
their compositions they were kept to simple sentence structure, 
but no limit was put on vocabulary. As each child gave his 
part, it was written on the board for the others to read. Much 
time was spent each day in picking out familiar words and 

* Teacher, Margaret Hoblitt. 


learning new ones from their reading lessons. The origin and 
phonetics of these were often discussed. 

Most of the children in this group had not at that time 
reached any degree of ease in reading, but all had a desire to 
read. Four of them had done a little reading in books, be- 
ginning with the simple repetitive stories such as "Henny 
Penny" and "Cock Robin.*' They had not yet reached the stage 
of doing any independent writing, although as a group they 
wrote two scenes of a dramatic play based on the story of 
primitive people* Individual children suggested the dialogue, 
and the others agreed or changed it until they were all satis- 
fied. This work was then written on the board for the class to 

As Group V, these children followed their Phoenician sailors 
to the Mediterranean seaport of Venice and thence embarked 
on a study of the world wanderings of explorers. The best 
available story of the life of each explorer was read by the 
children. They then summed up the chief points and wrote 
their own records. The books containing these stories were 
left where the children could get them and read further if 
they so desired. The life of Columbus came first, and the pres- 
ence in Jackson Park of the models of the Nina, Pinta, Santa 
Maria, and the convent of La Rabida added interest to the 
story. These written reports culminated in a play about 
Columbus which was written for and produced at one of the 
general assemblies. Its production involved much constructive, 
as well as expressive, effort and finally drew into cooperation 
most of the school. 5 

At ten years of age, Group VII was interested in arithmetic 
to such an extent that they undertook the writing of a text- 
book. The children composed many of their own problems, and 
considerable attention was given in this group and in Group 
IX to the formal statement of generalizations in concise and 
finished English. The latter group was much interested in the 
logic of the syllogistic statement. Better order in the written 
work was an aim which seemed of great imporance at this 

5 For a statement of the language expression of Group VI, see Chapter 


age to one of the most successful teachers of mathematics, for 
with the ability to formulate and arrange in exact and logical 
fashion went a commensurate increase in self-confidence. 

In science, too, the most successful statements of the results 
of observation or experimentation were those that expressed 
the meaning of things seen or experienced so that they were 
understood, and became significant and indicative of new pos- 
sibilities to mutually interested individuals. Knowledge of the 
right words, of sentence structure necessary to the formal state- 
ment of facts observed, problems to be solved, the premises of 
an hypothesis, or the conclusive evidence of an experiment 
all were points of skill necessary for each child in order that 
he might make his daily observations and experiences in the 
laboratory or the field excursion successful and, therefore, 
intelligible and vitally significant to his group. For adequate 
and successful interpretation of the scientific meanings of his 
daily life, so that they were progressively helpful in new ex- 
periences, both to himself and others, a child must have a suit- 
able scientific vocabulary and an adequate technique in ex- 
pression. The children planned as a group and talked over 
their experiments in advance, but each child wrote an in- 
dividual report of his own work. 

This group, dissatisfied with their Dewey School song, wished 
to write something more dignified and from their study of 
literature took the subject of the Adventures of Odysseus. In 
the composition of both music and poem they sought to use 
as many beautiful phrases and expressions as possible. 


Land not here! For here dwell the Kine of the Sun, 

And Zeus would send a thunderbolt should you in your hunger harm 


Yet they heeded not my words, 
But beached their ships upon the shore, 
And when I woke from sleep, 
I found the roasting flesh midst fires roar. 

Hence sailed we on mid storm and wind and wave 
And nearer to our Fate we drew striving our lives to save- 
In vain, for I alone escaped, 


And drifted toward the fatal rock 
Where dire Charybdis sucks the sea 
And casts it forth with fearful shock. 

Once again, saved by Athena the fair, 

I drifted toward a flowery isle, and quietly slumbered there. 

Then down the beach Calypso came 

And to her grotto welcomed me. 

Mid clustering vines and rippling streams 

For years I rested peacefully. 

At the dose of another ten weeks of work (two and one half 
periods each week and one period of a half-hour of study hour) 
the individual records of Group VIII (eleven years) were 
"pieced together" to form a connected story of the formation of 
calcareous and sedimentary rocks in detail, and of land in 
general. Oral and written language were given separate con- 
sideration only with Group VIII in a course of English. Groups 
VII, VIII, and IX took over a good share of the printing of 
songs, poems, reading lessons, programs, records, or plays in 
English, French, or German for the whole school. 

Latin, French, and German were studied in the secondary 
period. The various teachers cooperated closely, and a correla- 
tive study of word derivations and problems of syntax and 
grammar in each language was developed. At one time the 
same person taught both Latin and English. Contemporaneous 
with a study of English village life, an attempt was made to 
gather together, interrelate, and unify all the previous lan- 
guage experience of the oldest groups in the school. Group XI 
(fourteen years) had had little formal work in English, most 
of their grammar having been acquired in the collateral study 
of French and Latin. Their general reading of the classics had 
been limited. A critical analysis of one of Shakespeare's plays 
was undertaken. This was followed by further critical work 
which included an analysis and study of the history of the 
period of the play from all points of view, including the in- 
dustrial and scientific. The results seem to have been sugges- 
tive of the weak as well as the strong points in the literary 
abilities of the children. At their best they showed 6 "consider- 

Teacher, Alice C. Dewey, 


able logical power in attacking grammatical problems and in 
analyzing characters and situations. This ability enabled them 
to grasp quickly the idea that order of composition was simply 
the logic of thought or subject-matter. Analytical work in con- 
nection with writing finished reports of their science resulted 
in a rapid gain in the power to prepare clear and accurate out- 
lines. The rapidity and ease with which they realized then- 
lacks and utilized instruction to perfect their use of language 
indicated unusual critical ability, and they could analyze, ab- 
stract, and formulate conclusions or plans far more readily 
than the average young person of this age." 

The choice of mediums of expression for ideas was rather 
limited by the school's lack of equipment. It varied, however, 
with individual children. Clay was early and long a favorite. 
It was plastic and to some extent durable. A child saw and felt 
his idea take form, and the result, which he could share with 
others, survived as evidence and proof of his expression. In 
music, on the other hand, the structure of melodic sound falls 
when the song ends, and it is often difficult, except for unusu- 
ally gifted children, to recapture the fine quality of the first 
expression. Only when the teacher was a genius were the in- 
ventive results of the shy excursions of the unusual child into 
the field of creative music preserved. 


The method of teaching music was that of Professor Cal- 
vin B. Cady a musician with the point of view of an educator. 
He conceived of music as idea, not as the product of sense de- 
velopmentas conceptive thinking and hence a positive factor 
in education. 7 

The usual test of determining whether a child can discriminate 
between tones is no evidence of musical consciousness. Music is 
thought which must be grasped. The musical idea has three ele- 
ments: melody, rhythm, and harmony, each of which must be con- 
ceived and gradually unfolded. Conceptive development may be 

t Calvin B. Cady, "Music in Education/' University Record, Vol. i, No. 51. 


expressed in two words, analysis and synthesis. Analysis is the individ- 
ualizing process, synthesis the unifying one. Attention is nothing 
more than the developing o the conceptive process. 

Until simple melodic phrases can be conceived, there is no evi- 
dence of musical consciousness. The second step is the recognition 
of the rhythmic basis of melody, and the third is the development of 
the harmonic basis underlying the melodic and rhythmic expression. 
When this conceptive foundation has been laid, the forms of musical 
manifestation, the voice, or the different kinds of musical instru- 
ments may be considered. 

Thus music is an expression of the whole of life. Its principles 
are as fixed as those of geometry and their development as logical. 
The danger lies in considering music as one sided, as the language 
of emotion only. True music cannot be the language of discord; it 
must express the highest unity and harmony. 

In the first year of the school, two of Mr. Cady's pupils were 
in charge of the music department. 8 The musical program was 
then taken over by another gifted pupil of Mr. Cady's, who 
developed it with a unique interpretation of her own. Ex- 
tracts from an article written after two years' experience in 
the school give her own estimate of the work: 9 

Music is an important factor in the growth of the child's esthetic 
nature. As early as he is shown beauty in color and form the child 
should have beauty in tone and melody given him. There are no 
unmusical children. Interest in musical expression is one of the 
natural resources of the child, and unconsciously he will awaken to 
a melodic conception through repetitions, in pure and gentle tone, 
of melodies suited to his understanding. This process cannot be 
begun too early. Having understood, he possesses a mental picture 
which he seeks to express by humming or singing. This expression 
of an esthetic impulse is as natural to the child as his expression 
in color. Needing no instrument, it is simpler and would be more 
readily used were his early environment as full of tone as of color. 
The more he hears of this music, the more he assimilates, and the 
more he has to express. And not alone through imitation. If he be 
given a poetic phrase which touches his imagination, he can give his 
own melodic conception of it, and the awakening of this creative 
faculty brings a joy which stimulates the growth of his whole 
esthetic nature. 
There is nothing more precious to a child than his own creation, 

May Taylor, Miss Whiting. 
May Root Kern. 


and to preserve his melodic thought he will wish to acquire a knowl- 
edge of the symbols necessary to express it. ... 

In the school, a problem to be coped with arises from the diver- 
sity of musical attainment in the groups. Children from non-musical 
environment are to be handled with others who are developed mu- 
sically. To lessen the chasm, much thought is given to creating a 
musical atmosphere. The formal side of the work is made as melo- 
dious as possible, and all technical exercises are clothed in harmony. 
The children have weekly opportunity of hearing a short program 
of music by the best composers, performed by friends of the school, 
by teachers, or by pupils prepared through outside work. The older 
children have heard short and simple talks on the lives and work of 
the great masters, illustrated by piano and vocal selections. A large 
part of each period of work is spent in song-singing. The school 
has been divided into two choruses, one ranging from six to eight 
and a half years of age, the other from nine to thirteen. These 
choruses have sung melodies learned by rote in their group work, 
the older chorus having in its repertoire songs by Franz, Schumann, 
Wagner, Reinecke, Humperdinck, and some of the best English com- 
posers. In connection with their work in Latin, they have learned a 
Latin song of nine stanzas and a shorter Christmas hymn; in con- 
nection with French, several chansons populaires and two old French 
rounds. The latter, being very simple in melody, have furnished a 
valuable exercise in concentration. There being in this chorus a 
considerable proportion of children unable to sing a connected 
melody correctly, perfection in detail is impossible. The special 
aims, other than familiarity with good songs and the memorizing 
of texts, have been bodily poise, deep breathing, careful enuncia- 
tion, and a pure quality of tone. A picked chorus of twenty-five 
voices is now being arranged which will be trained to do some model 
singing for the benefit of the school. 

Owing to the wide differences in musical development, it was dif- 
ficult to find a common ground for the work of each group as a 
whole. The technical work, founded on short, original phrases, 
sometimes failed to arouse interest in those children who but im- 
perfectly grasped melodic idea. The proposition, however, to select 
a topic and write a complete composite song which should express 
the genius of the group brought a unity of impulse at once. It was 
supposed that the unmusical children would devote themselves to 
the text and leave the musical setting to the rest. But not so; the 
general enthusiasm awoke them to an overflow of musical ideas and 
a firm belief in their own phrase as given. Whatever of novelty the 
song possesses is owing to the odd intervals offered by these non- 
musical children. It was necessary to harmonize them attractively 
to gain their acceptance by the musical members of the group, who, 


left to themselves, would have given only the most obvious phrases 
and thus produced more commonplace results. 

After several successful songs had been composed, a group of 
children between the ages of seven and eight years, below the aver- 
age in musical development, but having a strong feeling for rhythm, 
wrote a song which is saved from monotony by the final phrase given 
by a boy almost tone-deaf. He offered the phrase, which was repeated 
on the piano as nearly as possible as he had given it. He objected, 
however, saying that what was played was not what he intended to 
give. After repeated attempts, the teacher succeeded in discovering 
what he had persistently kept in his mind, but could not ex- 
press. . . . 

Composition work with the children has value in proportion to 
its being an untrammeled expression of their own musical conscious- 
ness. The teacher's task is to encourage through beautifying the 
child's thought by harmonic background. That composition work 
gives the children a grasp of rhythm is shown by the way they handle 
it in making their songs effective. A seven-year group completed a 
Snowman Song in three-pulse measure rhythm and sang it to the 
school. Later they felt that its flowing rhythm was not suited to the 
requirements of the words and found by experiment that by using 
the more energetic four-pulse, the character of their melody became 
what was desired. 

The twelve-year-old children after completing their rollicking 
Fourth of July song experienced a reaction. They felt they had not 
expressed their highest musical consciousness and wished at once 
to begin a song into which they could put their best effort. As the 
Fourth of July song had met with enthusiastic approval from the 
school, this impulse showed a normal growth and as such was en- 
couraged. That it was genuine was proved by the children's slow 
and critical work, lasting through the remainder of the spring quar- 
ter, resumed after the summer vacation, and carried on through 
more than one-half of the autumn quarter. They suggested and di- 
rected the piano accompaniment at important points and, after the 
song was completed and sung to the school, further embellished it 
by adding a second-voice part 

The group composed entirely of musically developed children 
was the last to produce a connected song. The original scheme of 
work, the study of selected songs with their detail and the learning 
of symbols for their own short melodic phrases, contented them. 
Emulation, however, urged them to write, and they undertook the 
task as imitators, thus with less exhilaration than the others showed. 
Later a second impulse, more genuine than the first, resulted in one 
of the best of the school songs. 
It would be difficult to find songs written by adults which would 


appeal to the younger children's minds and hearts as do these, in 
spite of the aridities. The simplicity of thought and expression in 
the text, the sweetness and vitality of the melodies, exactly suit then- 
needs. Practical trial for over a year has shown their preference for 
some of the school songs to the best of the child songs written by 


The drawing and painting activities of the school were based on 
the assumption that a creative attitude of mind is essential to a com- 
plete art experience. In order to make such an attitude possible, the 
pictures which children draw, the objects which they decorate, must 
be derived from their own significant experiences. They are not in- 
terested in acquiring technical skill for which they feel no need, but 
rather seek fulfilment of wants which dominate their present situa- 
tions. They approach their work creatively when they make objects 
which they want for particular purposes, decorative patterns be- 
cause there are real things to be decorated, or pictures when they 
afford responses to immediate and fundamental urges. 

As it is only through the idealization of their own life and inter- 
ests that children become creative in their art, it is evident that op- 
portunities for such expression arise from this source. "Things to do" 
naturally grow out of interests, some of which are common to all 
children of corresponding age levels, while others are modified by 
home, neighborhood, and school situations* Our six-year-olds, whose 
studies centered about the farm, registered in their art expression the 
extent to which farm life has become real to them. Under their small 
hands clay turned into figures of farmers engaged in their most 
dramatic occupations, into farm animals, and even such otherwise 
prosaic things as fruits and vegetables. An older group, which had 
been studying the settlement of the Northwest, chose as subjects for 
a bas-relief, scenes from the life of Marquette. Another group executed 
in colored chalk on cardboard panels, a decoration for the wall of 
the textile room, choosing as their theme primitive methods of 
preparing and weaving wool. These subjects and projects would 
have held very little interest for a school in which subject-matter is 
factual rather than living reality. No cut and dried list of projects 
can mean the same thing to all children. The very perfection of 
many systems of instruction tends to inhibit creative effort, for in 
the hands of teachers who lack educational understanding and vis- 
ion such a system becomes inflexible. 

The belief was stressed that the teacher should seek the child's own 
motivations as a point of departure. It seemed equally important to 

10 Written by the art director, Lillian Cushman. 


emphasize the second point, that development through learning 
should begin at once and be continuous. The question was how to 
secure this result. Is it possible to teach necessary facts and skills as 
the need arises in the creative process? The art, in common with 
all other work of the Laboratory School, was conducted on the as- 
sumption that these questions can be answered in the affirmative. 
Knowledge and technical skill are significant to the individual only 
when they are intermediate between a felt need and its satisfaction. 

It is a recognized fact that nothing is more uninteresting or more 
meaningless to the average child than the subject of perspective. 
Yet it was a common experience in the school when a child was 
really interested in drawing something and a difficulty in perspective 
prevented adequate expression that the teacher found herself giving 
instruction which was sought by a willing mind. Ten-year-olds mas- 
tered fundamentals of convergence, while drawing log houses built 
by early settlers, spending three consecutive lessons in observing and 
experimenting before their interest span reached its limit. While 
modeling subjects taken from the life of Marque tte, children of a 
group averaging eight and a half years of age considered the 
esthetic problem of arranging the figures in such a way as to produce 
a harmonious whole. They often checked up on the naturalness of 
their figures in action by acting out for one another the pose re- 
quired and also made frequent reference to the various casts of the 
full-length figures which were kept in the corner of the studio. From 
the latter, they also sought answers to the questions of proportion 
and anatomy which occurred during the progress of the work. It 
must not be inferred that the facts and skills gained in this way 
were matters of choice. It was, of course, necessary to see to it that 
they developed as means to an end, not as ends in themselves. It 
was always within the power of the teacher to select for emphasis 
those difficulties for which a solution would help the child the most. 

A very young child lives so completely in a world of his own 
creation that he invests his rude soibblings with a meaning, regard- 
less of their outward form. A circle with straight lines attached serves 
equally as a horse, cow, dog, or man. By the time he reaches his 
sixth year he observes the external world more accurately and real- 
izes a discrepancy between his crude symbols and the reality. If self- 
expression is to be sustained, instruction, or rather supervision, should 
begin as early as this. (We are beginning to carry it back to the 
Kindergarten.) Technique should not be forced upon a child, but 
he should be continually and consistently assisted to overcome the 
simple difficulties of which he is conscious. If there is not a continual 
improvement in expression, the critical faculty may develop far in 
advance of the power to execute. If he becomes disgusted with his 
efforts, a long technical interval is necessary in order to come up to 


his own standards, during which the art impulse may not survive. 
It is evident that as the mind matures, the interest span will 
lengthen, and so the technical effort may be sustained. While the 
fleeting impulse of six requires immediate expression, the child of 
twelve works purposively for hours in order to master a difficulty. The 
degree of effort is commensurate with the intensity of Interest. 

Aside from the growth which comes through a child's own cre- 
ative efforts, the artistic inheritance of the race may become an im- 
portant factor in the development of standards. The best method 
of using art masterpieces in an educational scheme is a field for 
careful research. They seem to be of value to the individual in so 
far as they become, through idealization of his own emotion, an 
expression of himself, or as they furnish technical standards. The 
interest, which the adult terms esthetic, is only rudimentary in child- 
hood. An attempt to secure dearly defined appreciation of beauty 
from a child oversteps the mark in so far as it places the matter 
outside of the limited range of his experience. That esthetic ap- 
preciation grows as the child grows may be illustrated by the com- 
mon tendency of young children to pass through a stage of primitive 
satisfaction in crude color before they are able to enjoy the subtle- 
ties of harmoniously related hue. Appreciation cannot be taught 
directly, but rather results from a continuous process of reevaluating 
experience. This is another way of saying that the growing child is 
constantly modifying his standards and developing esthetic discrim- 

While the moral effect of art training has not been mentioned, its 
implications are implied. The only true freedom is that which the 
individual gains when he comes into possession of himself. Society 
is pretty much divided into classes of those who think and cannot 
use their hands, and those whose hands must work under the dic- 
tates of other minds. Any experience which contributes both food 
to the mind and power to the hand should exert a social influence 
of the highest ethical value. Because art does this, it promises to be a 
permanent educational factor. 

The ideal of the school was that the music, the literary and 
dramatic efforts of the children, and their artistic expression 
whether in design, in wood, metal, or fabric, in the graphic 
or plastic arts all should represent the culmination, the ideali- 
zation, the highest point of refinement of all the work carried 
on. 11 "The school can justly be said to have failed more often 
at this point than at any other. This failure, however, may be 

11 John Dewey, written for the authors. 


taken as evidence that the difficulty of achievement in this di- 
rection is proportionate to its importance. When artistic ac- 
complishment and its attendant consciousness of satisfying 
form are treated as something separated from other and more 
ordinary activities, greater external esthetic perfection in 
selected forms, as far as quantity is concerned, is easier of 
attainment. But this apparent, visible, esthetic superiority is the 
counterpart of the fact that other activities and studies, which 
occupy much more of the pupils' energy and time, are bereft 
of that emotional and imaginative quality of personal fulfil- 
ment and of realized expressiveness that gives them immediate 
and esthetic value. Any method of education that strives to 
introduce an artistic element into all typical school experi- 
ences will, accordingly, seem to fail of realizing the ideal more 
often than those methods which segregate the esthetic ex- 
perience and confine it to special exercises. But the rare occa- 
sional successes will go deeper and leave a more transforming, 
because more completely integrated, impress." 







JLHE school felt and thought out its way as it went along. 
Its principles and practices were quite unlike those of con- 
temporary method whether in the teaching or administrative 
area. The school was a social institution. Parents, teachers, ad- 
ministrators were joined in a search for a better way of school- 
ing, where each individual, whether child or adult, could have 
his chance for normal, happy growth and the satisfactions of 
creative expression that was social in its character and pur- 
pose. In such a school, cooperation must replace competition, 
and the efforts of each must align, not vie, with one another in 
a search for a common end. All this meant new planning, new 
setting of the stage for daily activities which should permit 
and promote a socially motivated school life. The following 
statements, made by Mr. Dewey at the request of the writers, 
help to clarify die theory of the school as it developed in his 
mind and its method of operation. 

"The principles of the school's plan were not intended as defi- 
nite rules for what was to be done in school. They pointed out 
the general direction in which it was to move. ... As the out- 
come of such conditions and others such as changes in the 
teaching staff, equipment, or building, the 'principles' formed 
a kind of working hypothesis rather than a fixed program and 
schedule. Their application was in the hands of the teachers, 
and this application was in fact equivalent to their develop- 



ment and modification by teachers. 1 The latter had not only 
great freedom in adapting principles to actual conditions, but 
if anything, too much responsibility was imposed upon them. 
In avoiding hard and fast plans to be executed and dictation 
of methods to be followed, individual teachers were, if any- 
thing, not given enough assistance either in advance or by 
way of critical supervision. There might well have been condi- 
tions fairer to teachers and more favorable to the success of 
the experiment. But if it had to be tried over again, I am con- 
fident that all concerned would prefer to err in this direction 
rather than in that of too definite formulation of syllabi and 
elaboration in advance of methods to use in teaching and dis- 
cipline. Whatever else was lost, vitality and constant growth 
were gained. 

"These remarks are not meant to shift responsibility for the 
mistakes and defects inevitably incident to a pioneer educa- 
tional undertaking to the teaching corps. They are made to 
offset the impression which the formal statement of prin- 
ciples might otherwise occasion, that of a scheme of instruc- 
tion fixed in advance. In an experimental school it is more 
difficult than elsewhere to avoid extremes. One of them re- 
sults in a continual improvisation that is destructive of conti- 
nuity and in the end of steady development of power. The 
other relies upon definite presentation of ends and methods 
for reaching them to which teachers are expected to conform. 


"The connecting link between these considerations and the 
original statements of the principles of the school was worked 
out by the teachers themselves cooperatively, with consider- 

i "Mr. Dewey had the greatest real faith of any educator I have known 
in the classroom teacher's judgment as to what children can and should 
do" was the opinion of George W. Myers, Professor of Mathematics in the 
Chicago Institute and later in the School of Education. Mr. Myers had an 
unusual appreciation of the trends in Colonel Parker's and Mr. Dewey's 
points of view and, therefore, saw more dearly than most where the two 
men concurred and how they differed both intellectually and administra- 


able use of the trial-and-error method. General suggestions 
were made by the directors, and of course the spirit of the 
school, its emphasis upon the connection of learning with 
active work, almost automatically controlled judgment as to 
what projects were suitable and what were not. But within 
these limits, the development of concrete material and of 
methods of dealing with it was wholly in the hands of the 
teachers. For each line of work, especially after the school 
reached a suitable size, there was a head who was primarily 
responsible. But she worked in cooperation with all teachers 
carrying out the details in that line, and also with heads of 
other lines in order to insure coordination. 

"While constant conference was needed to achieve unity, the 
movement of the school as a whole secured correlation of the 
work in different branches more automatically than would be 
supposed by one who has not seen the principle of activity in 
operation. Any large discrepancies of aim and procedure soon 
revealed themselves in a sort of disintegration in the children's 
attitudes and thus led to revision. It is very difficult to put in 
words the extent to which the spirit and life of a school can 
control, by means of its own developing movement, the work 
of different individuals and thus effect a reasonable degree of 
unity in the whole. Of course, the unity came far short of rat- 
ing one hundred per cent. But experience showed that there 
are checks upon dispersion and centrifugal effort that are more 
effective than are the rigid planning in advance and the close 
supervision usually relied upon. One such check was the 
weekly teachers' meeting in which the work of the prior week 
was gone over in the light of the general plan, and in which 
teachers reported the difficulties met in carrying it out. Modi- 
fications and adaptations followed. Discussion in these meet- 
ings was a large means in translating generalities about aims 
and subject-matter into definite form. Almost unconsciously 
teachers of native ability, even if they were without much 
previous experience, gained confidence in their own inde- 
pendent and original powers and at the same time learned to 
work in a cooperative way as participants in a common plan." 



The role of the teachers' meetings is illustrated by the fol- 
lowing outline in question form of one of these, which were in 
fact seminars in method. 


Questions which suggest problems that are to be considered. These 
are not to cover the topics in any literal way, but will get your minds 
thinking along lines that will be of use to you. 

1. Is there any common denominator in the teaching process? 
Here are people teaching children of different ages, different sub- 
jects; one is teaching music, another art, another cooking, Latin, etc. 
Now is there any common end which can be stated which is common 
to all? This is meant in an intellectual rather than a moral way. 
Is there an intellectual result which ought to be obtained in all 
of these different studies and at these different ages? 

2. Is the intellectual aim single or multiple? Is there any end 
which is comprehensive enough and definite enough to mean any- 
thing? By multiple I mean do we want to train observation, memory, 
judgment, etc.? Are these separate ends? If the end is single, how 
shall we relate all the subsidiary ends, such as memory, attention, 
observation, reasoning power, to it? If it is multiple, what is the 
effect of that in practice; is one study especially to reach one end 
and another another? Do we work for memory in one recitation 
and observation and reasoning power in others? And if so, how shall 
we regulate their balance? 

3. Is there any normal process of the mind which corresponds to 
this end which we want to reach, and if so, what is it? If there is a 
normal process, if the mind actually works toward it, just as the body 
is working toward health, what is the use of a teacher anyway? 
Where does the teacher come in? If it is a natural process, why does 
it not take care of itself? What is the relation toward this movement 
in the child's mind and the responsibility of the teacher? What is 
the relation of the different members of the group to the teacher? 
What is the relation of the different members of the group to the 
class? What have they to do with each other in working out this 

4. What is the significance of the various lines of study taken up 
toward the reaching of this end? 

Discussion: Use of past experience to gain enlarged experience 
through control was arrived at as the aim or common denominator. 

2 Led by Mr. Dewey, 1899. 


The securing of ability was another reason given, but it was seen 
that by ability was meant control, and that the experience to be 
gained was to be gained through utilization of former experiences. 

Knowledge was suggested as the aim, and the question asked 
whether knowledge was separate from experience. 

Mr. Dewey suggested that if the end is knowledge, how much 
knowledge is to be gained? Where will you draw the line? As much 
knowledge as you can stuff in? And what knowledge? It was argued 
that the method that brings the desire for more knowledge should 

If knowledge is made the end, have you any assurance that the 
end is not going to stop when the lesson does? The knowledge that 
is left in such shape as to give a method for further knowledge is 
the test of good teaching. 

If there is intellectual sympathy between the work of different 
teachers, must there not be some common end, in order to relate 
their work to that of the others? 

Mr. Dewey: "Is there any way to get a reasonable degree of as- 
surance that we are having the child get experience in such a way 
as to add to his power of control? If there is any such thing as 
method in instruction, can it be anything else than that control of 
the experience which is the teacher's control of the experiences of 
the child, and this should be such as to add to the assurance that 
the child is going to get control? 

1. Unless there is some general principle that can be got at which 
gives us some assurance that we cannot only give more experience, 
but also more control, is there any such thing as a real art or science 
of teaching? 

2. The object is to give the child the experience so that he will 
get power of control through new experiences. What does this mean 
in particular? What is involved in the adapting of old experiences 
so as to get a new? 

The child is to get a consciousness of his own power and ability. 
If he does not get it himself from the realities, the teacher will have 
to help him make the step from his old experience and then give 
him a similar step to make alone. 

How is the gaining of control and of new experiences to be se- 

Through the selection of subject-matter, and method within the 

What is meant by bringing in something new? There must be a 
point of contact, a place where the old experiences comes up to the 
new, and from the child's point of view, what is the new? 

The new is something presented to the child as a problem, a dif- 
ficulty, something that is doubtful, which has enough connection 


with the Ad to make the thing continuous. Does it make any differ- 
ence whether this is in arithmetic or Latin or art? 

The new is not new because it is new physical or intellectual 
material. Unless the lessons suggest a problem, a difficulty, it is not 
psychologically new. Would there be any learning unless there was 
some obstacle, some effort on the child's part?" 

Mr. Dewey's statement continues: 

"Those who have attended discussions among parents and 
teachers will readily understand that there was a tendency for 
these meetings to devote too much time and attention to the 
peculiarities and difficulties of individual children. In theory, 
the reports on individual children were supposed to connect 
with the principles involved in adjustment of subject-matter to 
their needs and the cooperative adjustment of children to one 
another in the social give and take of daily life. In fact, the 
younger and less experienced teachers, who served as assist- 
ants, often failed to see this connection and were inclined to be 
impatient with the personal phase of the discussion when it 
concerned children they did not have to deal with. Experience 
showed that 'principles' were too much taken for granted as 
being already understood by all teachers; in the later years an 
increasing number of meetings were allotted to the specific 
discussion of underlying principles and aims. Later results 
would have undoubtedly improved had there been more such 
meetings as were held in the earlier years. In these earlier years 
fellows and members of the faculty of the pedagogical depart- 
ment, graduate-student assistants, and the regular teaching 
staff of the school all met weekly with the directors to discuss 
the reports of the school in relation to theoretical principles 
and to revise future plans accordingly. 


"A check of a less formal kind was found in the daily contact 
of teachers at luncheon or after school, as they talked over 
their work and learned to appreciate the points at which the 
activities of different teachers with the same group reinforced 
one another or failed to converge. Perhaps the most vital, al- 


though the least formal, influence was provided as children 
moved from one teacher to another. Their attitude and re- 
sponse in a new class furnished an almost infallible index of 
the quality of conditions of action and learning to which they 
had been subject in their previous class. Subsequent conversa- 
tion would bring out a knowledge of the causes of the atti- 
tudes displayed and, as it disclosed that such and such a thing 
worked and another did not, would lead to needed modifica- 
tions or even to the decision that some line of work must be 
begun over again on a different basis. . . . 


"Cooperative social organization applied to the teaching 
body of the school as well as to the pupils. Indeed, it could not 
apply to the latter unless it had first taken effect with the former. 
Association and exchange among teachers was our substitute 
for what is called supervision, critic teaching, and technical 
training. In spite of all defects and mistakes, whether due to 
external or internal conditions, experience and reflection 
have convinced me that this principle is fundamental in school 
organization and administration. There is no substitute for 
it, and the tendency to magnify the authority of the super- 
intendent, principal, or director is both the cause and the effect 
of the failure of our schools to direct their work on the basis 
of cooperative social organization of teachers. The latter 
method makes unnecessary the grading and judging of teachers 
by the devices often used. It soon becomes evident under con- 
ditions of genuine cooperation whether a given person has the 
required flexibility and capacity of growth. Those who did not 
were eliminated because of the demonstration that they did 
not 'belong/ 

"Cooperation must, however, have a marked intellectual 
quality in the exchange of experiences and ideas. Many of our 
early failures were due to the fact that it was too 'practical/ 
too much given to matters of immediate import and not suffi- 
ciently intellectual in content. When the school grew larger, 
there was more definite departmental organization and more 


definite discussion of programs; in 1901 this tendency was 
further supplemented by the appointment of Ella F. Young as 
general supervisor and of Alice C. Dewey as principal. Their 
personalities and methods were such as to introduce more 
intellectual organization without impeding the freedom of in- 
dividual teachers. . . . The use of the word 'departmental* 
in describing the organization of the school is unfortunate. 
It suggests a kind of compartmentalizing and isolation of forms 
of work that should be integrated with one another. But ex- 
perience has convinced me that there cannot be all-around 
development of either teachers or pupils without something 
for which the only available word is departmental teaching, 
though I should prefer to speak of lines of activity carried on 
by persons with special aptitude, interest, and skill in them. 
It is the absence of cooperative intellectual relations among 
teachers that causes the present belief that young children 
must be taught everything by one teacher, and that leads to 
so-called departmental teaching being strictly compartmental 
with older ones. 

"Primary teachers should have the same power, the same 
freedom (and the same pecuniary recompense that now goes 
to university and, in less measure, to high-school teachers). 
Persons selected on the basis of their ability to respond to the 
needs of an educational situation and to cooperate socially and 
intellectually with others develop ability to work out and 
organize subject-matter and methods. Our 'higher' education 
will not be really higher until elementary teachers have the 
same right and power to select and organize proper subject- 
matter, and invent and use their own methods as is now ac- 
corded in some degree to teachers of older students. In recol- 
lection of many things in our school practice and results that 
I could wish had been otherwise, there is compensation in the 
proof our experience affords that the union of intellectual 
freedom and cooperation will develop the spirit that is prized 
in university teachers, and that is sometimes mistakenly sup- 
posed to be a monopoly of theirs." 

This testing in practice of the educational theories set forth 
in its hypothesis made the teachers of this school also investi- 


gators. They were both men and women, who usually varied 
widely in age and experience. Their previous preparation had 
generally consisted of a college education or of training in a 
technical school such as Pratt, Drexel Institute, or Armour. 
The experience of teaching in a conventional school had been 
a part of the preparation of most of them, and their own edu- 
cational upbringing had been full of free activity with a rich 
childhood experience. They came, for the most part, naturally 
into the school with a feeling of joy in its adventure. There 
were some, however, who, in spite of an experience exactly op- 
posite in nature, had won an even greater appreciation of the 
value and opportunity of its freedom. All were selected as 
carefully as possible with reference to their social fitness, and 
the result seemed to suit, in a rather remarkable manner, the 
needs of the pupils. 


Unhurried and unhampered as it was by arbitrary require- 
ments imposed from above or by irritating delays in getting 
necessary equipment or material, the school grew in three years, 
from fifteen to one hundred and twenty-five children, from two 
full-time teachers and two assistants on a part-time basis to a 
staff of fifteen full-time teachers and sixteen assistants. Some 
of these were salaried assistants, others, as graduate students, 
received their University tuitions for help given. There were 
also usually a number of undergraduate student assistants. The 
amount of time given by these assistants varied from one half 
to three hours a day. 3 

The increasing demands for administration were met, as the 
school grew, by a natural division of labor among the teachers 
according to individual interest and ability. At the end of the 
third year the administration, so far as the curriculum was 
concerned, assumed a departmental form, analogous to that 

a While often lacking in finish, the laboratories and studios of the school 
had good equipments so far as essentials were concerned. The result was 
that children and teachers of necessity constructed much of the additional 
equipment needful in the activities. 


of the University. These departments were the kindergarten, 
history, science and mathematics, domestic sciences and in- 
dustries, manual training, art, music, the languages, and 
physical culture. Each department was headed by a director 
qualified by social and technical training, as well as by life 
experience, to utilize the data of her special field in dealing 
intellectually with the problems met with in carrying on the 
activities of her classroom. This director was also a trained in- 
vestigator, who realized that her intelligent reports of the 
results of testing certain educational theories in the actual 
practices of her classroom were to constitute scientific findings 
for study and revision by other teachers, administrators, and 
students of educational science. As an investigator she had no 
fixed or final set of objectives, but each day of teaching enabled 
her in the light of her successes or failures to revise and better 
these objectives. 

The reports, made weekly in typewritten form, furnished 
the data of the problems for study and discussion in the weekly 
informal conference of teachers, as well as in the more formal 
seminar groups and larger pedagogical club meetings. Thus all 
the teachers in actual daily contact with children of all ages 
furnished, in these reports, the data for further inquiries and 
conclusions. The value of such material to the Department of 
Pedagogy of the University, engaged as it was with the prob- 
lems of educational science, became almost like the systematic 
and cumulative clinical records of medical science. 


In the early years of the school, supervision of both the chil- 
dren and the teachers of the school had been informal in char- 
acter. The children recognized that the teachers were there to 
help them in their own self-initiated activities. Their energies 
being fully engaged in these activities there was seldom occa- 
sion for "discipline."* Responsibility for supervision of the 

* A frequent visitor in the School, Miss Katherine Dopp, writes, "It may 
not be amiss to mention that at times I heard rumors to the effect that 
the children of the Laboratory School were disorderly. I had observed sev- 


children before and after school fell to the lot of the senior 
teachers under the supervision of the principal. There was 
daily and hourly exchange of results of classroom experience; 
a certain child was ailing and needed rest; another was in- 
hibited by shyness and needed encouragement; certain subject- 
matter was going well or ill with certain groups; or a science 
teacher would suggest to the one in charge of number work 
that the children of a group were ready to mark the Fahren- 
heit and Centigrade scale divisions on their thermometers, 
then in the making in shop and laboratory. Accordingly, this 
topic would be taken up for work In number as opportunity 

Such informal interchange, together with the weekly teach- 
ers' meeting, performed the function of integrating and coor- 
dinating those matters usually called disciplinary, as well as 
those necessary to the growth of the program. The importance 
of this continual exchange of news was felt to be so great that 
the teachers' work was arranged with periods free from class 
work of twenty to thirty minutes every day for each teacher. 
In these she could visit and advise with other groups and 

Great flexibility of organization was necessary for the work- 
ing out of so complicated a program of activities. This was 
made possible only by the willingness of the teachers to assume, 
when need arose, extra responsibilities to meet emergencies. 
In addition to the informal interchange between the teachers, 
there was, as already stated, the weekly meeting with Mr. Dewey 
and later with Mrs. Young and Mrs. Dewey present. As the 

eral groups many times and had not gained such an impression. But to 
make sure that I was not mistaken I visited the same group for a week 
from the first morning session until noon. During that time all the children 
were thoroughly interested in their work and unusually attentive. I ob- 
served nothing that could be interpreted as disorder and only one instance 
of inattention and that on the part of one child for only a few moments. 
To be sure the children were not required to toe the line, nor was their 
attention distracted from the work at hand by remarks about the position 
of feet and hands remarks which were still prevalent among so-called 
good disciplinarians at that time. The conduct of these children was above 
criticism. All eagerly cooperated with the instructors whom they regarded 
as friends." 


school and staff of teachers grew larger, this meeting assumed 
more formality. 


The children of the elementary school were grouped accord- 
ing to their interests and social compatibility which implied 
some correspondence to chronological age. These groupings 
replaced the ordinary public-school division into grades, 
where promotion was dependent upon a marking system. 
There were no comparisons of the work of children, who, 
with some few exceptions, never asked the teacher for judg- 
ments or rankings or even comments on their work. Their 
activities were such that they could themselves judge of their 
success or failure, and they were always fairly well aware of 
variations of ability in the group. Owing probably to the fact 
that there were almost no children who did not excel in some 
one activity, however, few overt comparisons by children were 
noted or can be recalled. Some of the children desired ex- 
ternal marks as proofs of their own development. These, at 
the time, were perhaps not sufficiently met. It might have 
helped for children to have kept some record of their suc- 
cesses so as to objectify their own advance and thus answer 
their need of some basis for judgment that should take the 
place of an ordinary system of marks and grading. As a factor 
in the general treatment of all the children, however, this 
lack was possibly more than balanced by the greater happi- 
ness of the whole. A sense of inferiority rarely developed 
overtly enough to present a classroom difficulty. Even in the 
last year of the school, with the effort necessary to meet col- 
lege requirements, stimulation by marks was never used. Writ- 
ten or oral review on completion of the piece of work to be 
done took the place of examination. 

The difficulties of adjustment, which arose from having 
young children under the care of more than one teacher, were 
met by having one person responsible for the coordination 
of each child's program and physical care, with whom eight 
hours or more a week were spent. Intellectual integrity and 
continuity in the treatment of subject-matter seemed of 


greater benefit than the hovering care of one person. Just as 
in homes, children instinctively select certain people as sources 
for certain kinds of response, the children learned to take 
their difficulties to those teachers who had specialized in the 
line where the problem belonged. When manual training, 
art, science, and literature were all taught, it was found that 
one person could not be competent in all directions, even if 
this had been desirable. 


A successful method of conducting classes gradually de- 
veloped. This varied with the personality of the teacher, her 
training, her background of experience and that of the chil- 
dren. It was also conditioned by the availability of the ma- 
terials and equipment. With all the younger classes, the first 
few minutes of each recitation were spent in a kind of coun- 
cil meeting with the teacher, picking up the threads of the 
previous period, planning and assigning the work of the 
present hour. The children developed their own impersonal 
methods of distributing important privileges, assigning the 
waiter at luncheon or the leader of the class for the day, etc., 
by alphabetical order. 5 The leader's responsibility entailed 
considerable independence of the teacher in following out 
the daily program. This was often complicated by unex- 
pected changes of room and teachers. In this way any child 
who, as leader, was lacking in initiative and executive ability 
fell naturally into the position of one who must develop 
both through his own effort and without any insistence from 
the teacher. In like manner, the naturally executive child, 
instead of spending all his energy in running the school, as 
sometimes happens in schools of this freer type, could put 
it into better planning of his work and forwarding of his skill 
in techniques. 

s About the age of twelve or thirteen the children voluntarily discarded 
the custom of following a leader and wished to be allowed to report to 
their classes as individuals. In case of unavoidable delay on the part of 
the teachers, the classes of all ages, even the youngest, put themselves to 
work under the direction of a leader. 


Even when accidental delays arose, which were inevitable 
in a school using the services of graduate students and part- 
time teachers, the children exhibited intelligence and con- 
fidence in meeting emergencies and would go on with class 
work on their own initiative. When, as often happened, they 
did care for a situation in this way, it was regarded as a 
definite indication that the class and teacher were adjusted 
and the work was proceeding properly. Such rational conduct 
in emergencies indicated the formation of a thought-in-action 
method in the presence of unusual situations. It was found 
that in dealing with such problems of development, in per- 
ceiving and meeting the need of the children for right means 
of self-expression, a teacher's art of teaching was tested to its 

This method in classroom work, the result of the coopera- 
tive efforts of teachers and children, had the merit of enlist- 
ing the interest and effort of the child both in planning for 
the activity and in its execution. In this process of directing 
a self-initiated activity great care was necessary to allow the 
child freedom to discriminate and select material according 
to his own idea of its purpose in what he was going to do. For 
example, in his pottery making, it was desirable that the form 
of the bowl he was making should be determined by him 
according to the use that he was to make of it and not ac- 
cording to a pattern set for him by another. His bowl com- 
pleted and proven useful for the purpose which he had for- 
seen, he was asked to use it, and his difficulty in so doing 
became his new problem. This recalled to his mind the form 
of a pitcher so that he himself planned and made the ap- 
propriate lip on the jar, thus carrying his activity forward. 
In this way the child gained the method of thinking and 
planning before doing. The stimulation of a successful accom- 
plishment was the motive for his next act. He became, in this 
particular instance, conscious that shape was related to the 
function of use. He formed an image, in advance, of the shape 
of the jar he must have for the use he wished to make of it and 
perceived that its use should determine its shape* 


This illustrates how general ideas reached the child through 
the teacher by means of her foresight, wise direction, or sug- 
gestion at the right moment. Always bearing in mind that 
the activity of the child must be self-initiated, the teacher's 
responsibility was to provide necessary materials and instruc- 
tion in the technical skills sought by the child to attain his 
desired ends. There was also need to remember that there is 
a stage of growth when it is natural for children to acquire 
their techniques of construction, communication, and meas- 
urement easily and with a degree of pleasure, and that activi- 
ties which were graded and adapted to a child's growing 
power stimulated his feeling of need and progressively in- 
creased his measure of ability. The resulting sense of satis- 
faction and clearer vision of achievement opened his eyes 
to the extension of his activity. 

There was needed, then, as always in progressive education, 
a willingness on the part of both teachers and parents to 
watch and wait for the development in the child of a sense of 
need for any skill or technique. It was necessary to combat 
fear of new unproven methods. This Apollyon of progress was 
always appearing in the untrodden trails blazed by the new 
psychology. The broad and easy ways of conventional teach- 
ing lured the teachers to seemingly pleasant travel. Con- 
tinually must they be on their guard against the temptation 
to select the old, easy, and habitual forms of activity for which 
ready-made materials were at hand, rather than one that 
required search for new materials and careful thought. 6 

Literacy, interpreted as the ability to read, write, and figure, 
has laid the responsibility upon the teacher of developing 
early proficiency in the child's use of these tools. This profi- 

In many schools this often leads to a misuse of the child's interest in 
an activity. This is seen when, for example, in the activity of cooking, 
the whole of a child's effort is steered into the acquirement of a skill in 
cooking, instead of directing him through his interest in cooking into a 
further apprehension of the meaning of the activity itself. The latter 
method develops in the child more and more control of his own share 
in what he is reproducing the activities grouped about the production and 
consumption of food. 


ciency was usually considered necessary before the child could 
help himself from the storehouse of learning in books. The best 
known way to lead a child to knowledge had been by the weari- 
some road of the alphabet. In consequence, the efforts of these 
trail-breaking teachers in the elementary School were often 
hampered by fear. Their use of these time-honored tools, the "3 
Rs," as wholly incidental to their need in an on-going activity 
was new and untried. What if this way did not prove to be 
so much more valuable than the old as to justify its use? Was 
it right to try a newfangled method when it had always been 
done the other way? Was it right to refrain from making a 
child learn to read and to wait until he was really ready to 
do so? "What was good enough for my father is good enough 
for me," was often thrown in the face of the experimenters by 
the disturbed parents of a child, who, slow to discover for 
himself a reason for using his tools, had been slow in learning 
how to use them, and had not been hurried in the process. 

Such disturbed parents are likely to communicate their 
attitude of anxiety to the child. He feels he is under criticism 
because he is slow. Desiring to gain approbation instead of 
criticism, he demands help in school, so that he may the 
quicker meet his parents' expectations. This is often taken 
by the inexperienced teacher as an indication that he has 
arrived at the stage of growth where the use of this tool arises 
out of a genuine felt need. An observant teacher, however, 
will recognize this as premature, if in other situations the 
child gives evidence of immaturity. It was found, for instance, 
that when a child was interested in an activity just for the 
sake of the activity, when he played miller without being in- 
terested in what the miller did, it was an indication, in gen- 
eral terms, that he was at the stage of growth when he did not 
separate means from ends. At that stage therefore he certainly 
would not be interested in learning how to read as a means 
to an end. If, however, as is characteristic of the seven-year- 
old, when playing miller he could remember what a miller 
does and could plan what he must do in the character of a 
miller, then he would be ready for and would be interested 
in using language as a means to a specific end. 



In the meantime, making records was a necessary part of 
the classroom process. This, however, was not used to stimulate 
a child's interest in learning to write. He was, instead, helped 
with the mechanics of making the record sufficiently to hold 
his interest in the process. It was found to be good practice, 
particularly with the younger children, in the council meet- 
ing at either the beginning or end of the period, for the 
teacher to write at dictation the children's story of the work 
of the hour. This story was arranged and used at the next 
period as a reading lesson for review. The children, seeing 
their own experience made lasting and useful to them and 
others by the written form, gradually awoke to an apprecia- 
tion of its use. They were interested by skilful suggestion to 
find that other people had had the same experience and had 
written it. The desire to read for themselves was often born in 
children out of the idea that they might find better ways of 
doing and thus get more satisfactory results. With this interest 
as an urge, the child himself often freely set his attention to 
learning to read. A natural need thus became the stimulus to 
the gaining of skill in the use of a tool. 

In such a process, unconscious to him and psychologically 
right because indirect, the child learns his techniques of read- 
ing, writing, and measurement as a means to a desired and im- 
mediate end of his own conceiving, and not as something he 
must learn because he will need it sometime, somewhere, for 
a purpose utterly unimportant to him. Furthermore, by using 
his skills to extend his ability to plan and execute his activity, 
he integrates his experience and furthers his growth. 


Too much emphasis cannot be laid on the constant and in- 
telligent attempts to put into classroom use, and thereby test, 
the theory of the school. The success or failure of these at- 
tempts occupied to a great extent the weekly teachers' meet- 
ings and was the subject of the informal daily discussion that 


always went on between the teachers in hallways and on the 
way to and from classrooms. Judgment as to whether there 
was a right learning condition in the classroom was often 
based on the attitude (poised and happy, or nervous and irri- 
table) of the child as he went to the next class. A quiet and 
contented attitude was considered an indication of satisfac- 
tion of desire arising from the successful accomplishment of 
a planned end. Such an attitude also indicated that the teacher 
was fulfilling her function. Although the immediate decision 
with regard to treatment of subject-matter and method was 
left to the individual teacher, each teacher's method was so 
checked and rechecked by cooperative discussion of results 
and effect on the children, that changes in viewpoint con- 
tinually took place. Therefore, teachers and children, admin- 
istrators and parents, as a result of sharing in the same social 
process, shared also in the educational benefits therefrom. 


From the beginning, one of the chief problems of those re- 
sponsible for the arrangement of the program was to get such 
an adjustment of the time devoted to the different activities 
as would be in accord with one of the major principles of the 
school. This principle was concerned with the developing 
muscular coordinations of the child which determined the 
type of activity proper for his stage of growth and in relation 
to his age. The need for the study and investigation of this 
problem was formulated by Mr. Dewey at the end of the first 
year of the school. His statement of the problem is based on 
the findings of the practice of the school during its first year. 
The time given to different kinds of activities in the accom- 
panying tables was the result of the discussions of the weekly 
teachers' meetings, of Mr. Dewey's own observations in his 
almost daily visits to the school and also those of Mrs. Dewey 
and other parents and friends who kept in close touch with 
its daily program, as well as of the comments and reflection 
of visiting teachers, administrators, and graduate students. 

This distribution applied to Groups I and II (six and seven 




Daily Program 

Hours a 


Period (number and 
and length 


2 days a week 


$ fit /j[n min. 


3 days a week 


3 at 30 min. 

2-3 days a week 


2 -a at 4K-2O min. 


3 days a week 


o t ^o min. 

Visiting Museums, etc. 

i day a week 
2 days a week 


i at i hr. & 30 min. 
2 at i hr & sio min. 


2 days a week 


2 at i hr 

Expressive Activities, 
Art, Modeling ... 
"History" Stories, 
Conversations . . . 

5 days a week 

5 days a week 
i day a week 



5 at 30 min. 

5 at 30 min. 
i at 20 min. 



a hrs a day 



years); with older groups the time was the same in gymnasium, 
shop, music, and excursions, while the balance between the 
active work and intellectual work changed so that with Group 
III (eight and nine years) about three and one half hours a 
week were spent in each. With the ten-year-olds active work 
occupied four hours, and the formal intellectual work seven 
to eight hours a week. The most important principles used 
in determining the time part of the program were (i) the rela- 
tive amounts of time to be given to hand-work and the intellec- 
tual work and (2) the balancing of the time assigned to hand- 
work of the constructive type such as that of the shop, cooking, 
sewing, and to the artistic modes of expression such as model- 
ing, painting, etc. The next table shows the allotment for these 



A. Cooking, Science 3% hrs. 

Related modes of expression 3% hrs. 

B. History, Literature 3% hrs. 

Related modes of expression 3% hrs. 

i During the first two years of the school there were no children under 
six years. Groups I and II (six and seven years). The last five years, Groups I 
and II (four and five years). 




A. 4Vs hrs. 

B 4% hrs. 

IV & V Shop 2% hrs. 

IV & V Geography i hr. 

IV & V Free time i hr. 

In the older groups the necessary balance between the two 
types of activities became more definite. The total amount 
of time actually spent by all children of different ages in 
overt activities was determined. For the younger children 
this was from nine to ten hours out of the fifteen, the re- 
mainder of their time being taken up with expressive activities 
of an intellectual kind. This general proportion was main- 
tained throughout the seven years of the school. The prob- 
lem of the variations in this balance demanded by the in- 
creasing maturity of the children was ever present. It was 
complicated by the necessity of using part-time teachers in 
art, music, and language, and the services of graduate stu- 
dents whose university schedules must be respected. 

The resulting practice was contrary to the traditional idea 
that a little child would attend to one activity for a short 
time only. After four years' experimenting it was found that 
six-year-olds could carry on their play in a social occupation 
from one to one and a half hours. As the result of careful 
experimentation, the following plan was worked out. A few 
minutes' discussion of the day's plans, under the teacher's 
direction, preceded a half to one hour's play and was fol- 
lowed by a summary of what had been done by the group. 
This summary was necessary to the child because it involved 
plans for the next day and took place three or four times a 
week. Later it was found possible to give the class that seemed 
ready for it to a teacher who had specialized in the tech- 
niques of reading, writing, etc. Her time was used in helping 
the children to make records of the activity. This furnished 
material for reading at the next period. The one hour and 
a half previously given to the group teacher was thus reduced 
to one hour, without interfering with the intellectual con- 


tinuity of the activity. Development in the technique of num- 
bers, however, was not separately undertaken in this manner 
until about the middle of the second stage of growth, but was 
always considered in direct connection with the activity in- 
volved and was under the group teacher's direction. Separate 
teaching of skills in the first stage of growth did not need 
more than three periods of a half hour each week. It was 
found that a group teacher's contact with her group could 
not profitably be less than eight to ten hours a week. This 
always included one period of an hour and a half each week 
in the group room, in which the unhurried completion of the 
integral parts of the class's activity was made possible. 

At the close of the first stage of growth (from seven to eight 
years) the balance in the day's program seemed to be success- 
fully maintained if the longest period was an hour and one 
half. One hour of this was devoted to the carrying out of an 
occupation. A half hour was given at least three times a week 
to techniques necessary to that activity. The following are 
typical programs for the three stages of the elementary period, 
during the later years of the school. 



Hours a Day 

Hours a Week 

Social Occupations 

\*A or i 


Primitive Occupations (History and 



Techniques (Reading and Writing) 
Gymnasium or Games in Room 
or Yard 

} (3 times a week) 



Music or Art 




1& x i (s fi nv*s a week 1 

A 72 

Excursions, or Assembly, or Shop 





After the age of eight the periods spent in artistic work 
were lengthened from, one-half hour to one hour and occa- 
sionally one and a half hours. This work was concentrated in 
one or two quarters of the year and was alternated with some 
activity, such as textiles, cooking, or science, while the time 



spent on history, music, French, and English was kept to an 
average of two hours a week, in one-half hour periods. With 



Hours a Day 

Hours a Week 

History and Geography 



Techniques (Reading and Writing) 

} (2 times a week) 
i or */> (3 times a week) 


Cooking *.*... .... 

Uand i 



i or y> (3 times a week) 



y> or i (3 times a week) 


Music and Art 

ty> (6 times a week) 



2 U 




the younger classes up to eight this division also held, but the 
work was carried on for an hour with the same teacher in the 
same room four days in the week. Separate classes in number 
work or arithmetic began with children of eight or nine 
years and were never longer than twenty minutes to one-half 

9 TO 10 TO 12 YEARS 


Hours a Day 

Hours a Week 

History and Geography 





Science or ..,..,.. 



2 or s>l& 

Cooking or 

x ui ^72 

Textile or Shop 

1 72 




i orU 

1 72 



* U1 72 

1 72 


Modern Languages 






4 u 




hour. These so-called drill periods were part of the program 
only as the children evinced the need. Otherwise their num- 
ber work was occupied with the problems arising in the other 
activities of the school. 
The varying factors in the program for the second stage of 


growth are cooking, science, textile and shop-work. The tech- 
nique periods varied from one and a half to two and a half 
hours a week. Number work as a separate study was added in 
the ninth and tenth years, thus increasing the time given to 
technique and lessening the time given to experimental work. 
Toward the end of this period, the school day continued to 
2:30 P. M., thus giving time for the study of modern languages 
and Latin. Another modification for this stage was in the 
time spent in art and textiles. These subjects, alternating 
every three months, occupied the children three to four hours 
a week, in one to one and a half hour periods. In the latter 
part of this period the daily balance was as follows: scholas- 
tic, one and a half hours; physical exercise, one and a half 
hours; expressive activities, two and a half hours. 

The first set of programs represents the arrangement of 
studies during the first two years of the school, the second that 
during the following five years. Both were planned and 
changed from time to time to accord with the balance between 
active and more strictly intellectual work involving discussion 
and planning found, by experiment, advantageous to the 
child. In the time given to active work, it was found well 
to strike a balance between activities involving the larger 
muscles, as those in the shop, gymnastics, etc., and those of 
the expressive arts, reading, writing, painting, modeling, etc., 
which make use of finer muscular control by alternating the 
periods of each. 

One of the characteristics of the school, which in retrospect 
seems of great importance, was the ease with which changes 
in the program, both as to subject and method, could be made. 
Such flexibility and adaptability to the needs of children or 
circumstances could only have been possible in a school where 
the informal social conditions and relations of everyday life 

The condition of the children at the end of the day was 
usually the test as to whether the learning conditions were 
right in all respects. This included, of course, the length of 
time spent by children of different ages in the school build- 
ing. For the youngest children, four to five years, the school 


hours were from 9 to 11:30. Six-year-old children were in the 
school from 9 to 12; seven-year-olds, depending on conditions 
in the class, sometimes returned or remained at school for 
an hour's work in the afternoon. All children over nine had 
afternoon work. It began with an hour and extended to one 
and a half hours for the oldest children. In general, for chil- 
dren six to nine years of age, the division of the day remained 
approximately one to one and a half hours in social occupa- 
tions including active work and discussions, one half-hour 
in gymnasium or outdoor play, and one half-hour on art or 
music. The remaining hour was spent variously on different 
days, in cooking one day a week, in textile work (generally 
one half-hour period), and a half-hour period in some hand- 
work, either in shop or in work connected with their social 
occupations. This arrangement was broken into during the 
week by the assembly, once in two weeks by excursions, and 
for eight-year-olds by individual work in printing and special 
work in reading and writing. 

During the second period, with children of eight to twelve 
years the day was extended by the addition of an hour in the 
afternoon. The same division of time was maintained, save 
that time was taken from the period allotted to social occupa- 
tions (varying quarter by quarter) and given to textile work 
or used in drill in the techniques of number. Toward the end 
of the second stage of growth, when a larger proportion of 
concentrated time was given to science, the three subjects, 
textiles, art, and science, were given successively, one each 
quarter. In this way longer periods for continuous work were 
secured in each one of these three lines. Because of the lack 
of full-time teachers, the assignment of work by quarters of 
the year was more or less arbitrary. In the second stage of 
growth, however, when most of the children had become 
capable of carrying on much longer and more involved pieces 
of work, this arrangement seemed to suit their interests and 
attitudes acceptably. 

For all the children, gymnasium periods of one half-hour 
were generally so arranged as to follow work that did not in- 
volve the larger muscles. When possible, with children up to 


the age of seven it took the form of play outdoors. Groups 
were combined so that about twenty-five children formed a 
class. Six-year-old children sometimes played with the next 
older and sometimes with the next younger children. In the 
stage of growth when interest in organized games develops, 
from nine years on, the gymnasium periods become more fre- 
quent, and more play times, often after school, were ar- 
ranged. With this change one or two half-hour periods of 
school hours were spent on the gymnasium floor, in outdoor 
gymnastics to help posture or in games using the large mus- 
cles. The out-of-door organized play was supervised. One of 
the University coaches helped the children develop their 
techniques in baseball and basket-ball. The school, as part of 
the University, was under the University health regulations, 
in accord with which, as well as because of need, each child 
received a thorough physical examination. The tests and 
measurements then in vogue were used. When these disclosed 
conditions requiring it, individual corrective work in the 
University gymnasium followed. The school also formulated 
its own health regulations. One of the records runs as follows: 

The boys were convinced by the medical adviser of the University 
(Dr. Raycroft) that high-school football often formed habits which 
hindered rather than helped them in their later play of the game. 
This advice was backed up by the teacher of biology (Mr. George 
Carrey) whose reputation as a star of the football field (one whose 
head helped out his feet) gave his opinion great weight with the 

Two of the students in the Department of Pedagogy (1896 
to 1897) were Frederick W. Smedley and Daniel P. MacMil- 
lan. 8 Both were members of Mr. Dewey's seminar, 9 where the 
fundamental concepts basic to the hypothesis of the school 
were worked out. Both early saw the extent to which these 

s Mr. Smedley was Director of the Child Study Department of the Chicago 
Public Schools until his death in May, 1902. Dr. MacMillan has been Direc- 
tor of this Department since Oct., 1902. 

s This seminar was the first in a series which collaborated in bringing out 
Studies in Logical Theory, by John Dewey, with the cooperation of Mem- 
bers and Fellows of the Department of Philosophy (Chicago: The Uni- 
versity of Chicago Press), 1903. 


psychological principles, with their social implications, would 
change education. 

Mr. Smedley, in collaboration with A. A. Wood, a student 
in the Department of Psychology, carried through a series 
of measurements of the sensory and motor abilities of the 
pupils in the school. These tests were planned in the University 
Psychological Laboratory with a view to determining the 
pedagogical value of measurements which could be used as 
a basis for determining the right balance and distribution of 
time given to the various types of activity on the daily pro- 
gram. Later a report of these tests was published. In the intro- 
duction Mr. Smedley writes as follows: 

The school is a pedagogical laboratory where the students of peda- 
gogy are investigating such questions as the correlation of studies, 
the psychological bearing of the different branches, and the adapta- 
tion of the material from the different sciences to the needs of 
primary pupils. . . . These tests are, I believe, a suitable beginning 
for a teacher who is to develop an organized, assimilated knowledge 
of child psychology and become a trained observer of children. It is to 
be hoped that the schools of the near future will be equipped with 
such teachers, teachers who, better understanding the natures of 
the children, will better know their needs and be able to pro- 
vide for them, and that in those schools pupils will not be promoted 
simply on account of their having remembered the words of the 
answers to stated questions. Instead health, strength, quickness and 
accuracy of intellectual activity, and the acuteness and education of 
the senses will determine, in part at least, the child's fitness for 
higher and harder work. 

The psychological tests involved much labor, but helped in de- 
termining a right balance in the time which could profitably be 
spent in the typical activities of the program. 

The tests were easily fitted into the day's program because of 
the flexibility of the school organization. There was great 
difficulty in finding space suitable lor them, but an attic 
room was finally fitted up for the purpose. The freedom with 
which the children could be sent to the examiners was testi- 
mony of the friendly attitude toward adults developed in the 
school. Only a small proportion had to be taken to the ex- 



10 The School's beginnings of study of the psychology of individuals 
were perhaps too informal and qualitative to survive the more 
definitely organized form of institutionalized school life which reas- 
serted itself after Mr. Dewey left, and the tidal wave of statistical 
measurements which helped sweep reactionary influences into 
power. There was nothing in the earlier form of the Laboratory 
School, judging from the little I saw of it, that was opposed to the 
development and use of instruments of precise measurement in 
educational practice. Doubtless these instruments would have come 
in due course, but applied to the development of values which were 
unique rather than standardized. 

In the last year or so studies were made to discover the 
stage of growth at which self-consciousness appeared. With 
so few children no a priori generalizations could be made. 
The studies, however, suggested that, for these children at 
least, consciousness of the difference between boys and girls 
in interests and attitudes did not appear, except in isolated 
cases, until after eleven years of age. The boys in the older 
classes, perhaps because they were in the minority, were 
especially determined not to let the girls, as they said, "get 
ahead of them," and were not always devoid of the boastful 
attitude, easily understood, at that time, without benefit of an 
"inferiority complex'* explanation. The girls, most of them 
excelling easily in many respects, looked with tolerance at 
this attitude of the boys. There were no major difficulties 
with precocious sex interests in the friendly association in 
clubs and work on the club-house. It is probable that there 
was the usual exchange of dubious experience which is almost 
universal between small boys and girls. This never amounted 
to much of a problem, as there were generally activities of 
much more interest going on. 


Excursions were a feature of the school's program from the 
beginning. These were of all kinds, collecting expeditions in 

10 Willard C. Gore, assistant in Psychology at the University of Chicago, 
1909-03, and later Instructor of Psychology in the School of Education. 


the parks, physiography excursions to the dunes and distant 
regions such as Starved Rock or Lake Bluff on the north shore 
of the lake. Visits were made to factories and the art museum. 
They went frequently to the nearby Field Museum where a 
wide variety of departments offered unusual illustrative ma- 
terials, useful to the pupil's experiences and experiments. Ex- 
peditions to the park, the greenhouses, and occasionally to 
the University laboratories were a part of the routine of each 
class as the work reached the point when such visits would be 
helpful. The excitement and interest of the children over the 
field expeditions were never failing and always included a 
keen interest in the scientific purpose of each excursion. The 
pleasure on the trip, in the luncheon and in being outdoors 
together never seemed to interfere, but heightened the under- 
standing of what they saw and discussed. The University li- 
braries and those of the city were a never-failing source of 
books for teachers and children, and the latter early learned 
how to make use of the reference shelves. 

The assembly, in which the whole school except the kinder- 
garten came together, occurred once a week and varied in 
length from twenty minutes to half-an-hour. It was regarded 
as a natural outgrowth of the school activities and had both a 
social and a cultural aim. It afforded opportunity for pupils 
to share interesting information and to build up habits, emo- 
tions, and attitudes which gave social value to information and 
to artistic expression. It also helped the children learn the art 
of cooperation, develop initiative, and assume responsibility. 
It stimulated clear thinking and expression and cultivated the 
desire to give entertainments of artistic value. 


There is much of interest and value after an interval of 
thirty years in the comments of graduate students, visitors, 
cooperating members of the University faculty, teachers and 
principals of this and other schools, and the pupils of the 
school on this experiment in education. A few are here in- 
cluded. One of the teachers in the old Cook County and 


Chicago Normal Schools, and later in the Chicago Institute 
was Flora J. Cooke. In 1900, she became principal of the 
Francis W. Parker School, part of the Chicago Institute before 
its removal to the South Side. Miss Cooke wrote: " 

I believe Dr. Dewey and Colonel Parker had fundamentally the 
same point of view in education, but Dr. Dewey came to his con- 
clusions from a profound philosophic study, while Colonel Parker 
came to his through a deep, sympathetic insight into children and 
their needs. Colonel Parker never lost sight of the child in theory. 
Both Colonel Parker and Dr. Dewey would have the child work 
and play in a rich and stimulating environment. Each would have 
the environment, both of the school and of wider society, give the 
child educational inspiration and many-sided, wholesome activity. 
Each believed that if the child filled today with complete and happy 
living, tomorrow would find him ready to meet the challenge 
for more difficult responsibilities and socially satisfying work. These 
two men, working from opposite poles, observing keenly and care- 
fully educational phenomena, came in a remarkable degree to the 
same conclusions concerning educational procedure. 

A young instructor in pedagogy recalls the days when those 
in the educational process were still quite unaccustomed to 
experimentalism in education and when the experimental 
method connoted a laboratory of natural science, rather than 
a humanistic one. 12 

Mr. Dewey emphasized to all of us the importance of not looking 
for material results, but to observe carefully the effect of the 
processes upon the minds, not only of those who were to be 
"taught," but upon those who were the "teachers" or leaders. The 
emphasis upon the necessity of participation in the educational 
process and the equally strong and important fact that education is 
not a state but a process made us look upon this experimental 
school as something which had a working hypothesis worthy of care- 
ful consideration. . . . 

My first taste for experimental work in education was developed 
when Mr. Dewey took me, a graduate student, with him to his 
school. Coming from a University where the classics still remained 
the great standard of education, with the sciences standing around 

11 Extracts from a statement made by Miss Cooke in March, 1927. 

12 George H. Locke, Instructor, Department of Pedagogy iSgS-'oi, now 
Chief Librarian of the Public Library of Toronto and Director of the "Boys 
and Girls" House of Toronto. 


outside or timidly knocking at the threshold or darting in when the 
door was carelessly left upon for a moment, this was a new atmos- 
phere and it took some time for readjustment. ... To some of us 
whose tastes led them to the administrative side of education, the 
school presented many difficulties, for it is not easy to persuade a 
democracy which is always shouting for freedom that freedom should 
be granted to individuals especially if they are young. Then again 
progress has been marked out in definite lines with sign posts, and 
the mode of vehicle, the road to be travelled, and the distance to be 
covered during intervals of the journey are also marked out. It is 
expected that there will be little or no deviation. All this was upset 
by this experimental school. We had been accustomed to Model 
schools or Normal schools, but not to Experimental schools. 

The great work Dr. Dewey did for us, and for all who kept the 
faith of those early days was to open our eyes, develop our reason, 
and make flexible our so-called intellect. Indeed, flexibility was to 
me the great word. He sowed widely. He could not tell what the 
harvest might be. I think he never has known how great a harvest 
has been reaped in fields he never saw again. 

One of the directors of the work with the youngest children 
in the school writes of her two years' teaching. 13 

These years are among die happiest and most interesting experi- 
ences in a rather long teaching career. Naturally, the group of 
children whose parents would place them in such a school would be 
deeply interesting in themselves and have much to contribute to 
one another. These shared experiences we took as the basis of our 
school life and tried to interpret, deepen, and enrich them through 
the experience of other children, through our own larger experience, 
and through the materials used from day to day. 

It was felt each child should gain greater control of his body if he 
would be unconscious of it as it served him in all situations of life. 
Therefore, his walking, skipping, running, and so on in the home 
were made more meaningful through the rhythmic plays and exer- 
cises in the kindergarten. Partly because music is suggestive and 
furnishes an element of control which helps to free a child, and 
partly because in a social group every individual experience gains 
new stimulus and zest, the individual child's delight in play grew 
spontaneously, as it took on the new meaning of a game, into the 
joyous shared activity of the social group an activity which had a 
purpose common to all. 

It was Mr. Dewey's idea that each child should be free to develop 

is Grace Fulmer (1900-1902), now Director of her own school at Los An- 
geles, California, 


his own powers to some ultimate purpose through the guidance of 
one whose experience was richer. Such also was his own relation 
to the teachers in his school. I know there were things in my own 
work of which he did not approve, and yet I always felt free to 
work in my own way, and all the while his ideals and influence upon 
my educational experiences have increased with the passing years. 
It was with the deepest regret that every teacher who had had the 
good fortune to be associated with Mr. Dewey's splendid work, in 
what we learned to call "The Dewey School/' saw its doors closed. 
But that which no door can bar has gone out from that school until 
its influence has been felt around the world. 

Mr. W. A. Baldwin of the Hyannis State Normal School 
writes of his visits to the school. 

During the existence of the Dewey Experimental School I took 
every opportunity to visit it. I always found it full of helpful sug- 
gestions for my own work. We at Hyannis were trying to readjust, 
to replace the artificiality and mechanism of the regulation public 
school by the more natural conditions of life. I had read with much 
interest Dr. Dewey's little book, School and Society, and agreed 
completely with the philosophy of education as therein portrayed. 
I was, therefore, much interested in seeing how he was working out 
the principles of progressive education in his own little experi- 
mental school. Naturally, I found myself comparing the conditions 
with which he had to deal with those of our own Training School 
and as found in the ordinary city school. Usually educational friends 
were visiting at the same time, and I was interested in getting the 
reactions of superintendents of schools as shown by their remarks 
during our visits and afterwards. It seemed hard for many intelligent 
superintendents to see below the surface and appreciate the real 
educational development which the children were getting. . . . 

My visits helped me to see how much of the industrial-social work 
in our own school might be looked upon by many of our visitors. 
As I have since thought about the matter I have come to under- 
stand why such educational reforms have met with so little encour- 
agement and even with covert opposition from a large majority of 
superintendents and teachers trained under the old regime and with 
the habits of mind and of application which belonged with the old 
type of education. These ideas, as Dr. Dewey has so well and so 
often pointed out, are so opposed to those underlying the experi- 
mental schools that it is impossible for the conservative to under- 
stand what the progressive has in mind. In consequence much of 
the work of these experimental schools seems to them foolish. We 
had then and continue to have fundamentalists and modernists in 
education as well as in religion. . . . 


I remember being quite disturbed when I learned that three or 
four of the older pupils, whom I saw over in one corner, were being 
drilled up for college entrance examinations in the old way, the 
regular work of the school having failed to prepare them to pass 
such tests. As I considered the matter on my way home, I satisfied 
myself that the fault lay with the type of examination, rather than 
with the kind of training which these children had received. Here 
stood out quite clearly the contrasting ideals of the old and the 
new education the one demanding that children be drilled up on 
an established and approved set of facts and laws discovered and 
thought out by others, the other that children be encouraged to see 
and to think for themselves each in his own natural way. 

Every new educational movement has been associated with and 
due to some great personality. We think of Pestalozzi and Stanz, 
Colonel Francis Parker and Quincy, Dr. E. A. Sheldon and The 
Oswego Normal School, Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee, 
President Charles W. Eliot and Harvard. Not one of these, how- 
ever, has done so much for a better understanding of the education 
of young people as has Dr. John Dewey, who seems particularly 
gifted in the power to understand the way in which the child's mind 
naturally develops. More and more the ideas regarding education 
which he has so long advocated are being accepted, and attempts, 
are being made to apply them often without due credit to their 

When the true story of the educational movements of our times 
is written, Dr. John Dewey will, I believe, be recognized as the 
philosopher and prophet of his age. 



AN the first year of the school, a cultivated woman of the 
neighborhood who had no children of her own was a fre- 
quent visitor. Toward the end of the year, she remarked to a 
person connected with the school: "At first, I was distinctly 
critical about what I saw. As time passed, I realized that some 
of the trouble was the standard of judgment I had brought 
with me from experience acquired in the old kind of school. 
I finally came to realize that education is not anything that 
can concern only the children who are pupils. It is also a 
matter of the education of parents and in the end of the 
whole community." The life of the school throughout its 
existence bears witness to the truth of these words. 


The parents' relation to the school, like the growth of the 
school itself, was of slow development. As they grew more 
and more into an understanding of what was going on and 
changed their preformed standards of judging, the new sym- 
pathy and insight gained reacted not only upon their own 
children but upon teachers and the whole school life. They 
brought to the school valuable information and suggestion. 
The experiment gradually extended and became a large com- 
mon enterprise which included parents, teachers, and chil- 

This does not mean that all parents were sufficiently satis- 
fied to continue their children in the school. On the con- 
trary, there were cases of maladjustment sufficiently acute so 
that children were withdrawn. It does mean merely that there 



was gradually built up a solid nucleus of actively interested 
and sympathetic parents who were intensely loyal to the 
school, and who stood by it in all times of difficulty. Those 
responsible for the conduct of the school say that without this 
intelligent and earnest support of the parents, the school could 
not have begun to accomplish what it did; it could not have 
continued even to exist. The financial committee of the school 
consisted o Mrs. Charles R. Crane, Mrs. William Kent, and 
Mrs. Charles F. Harding. Just as their aid was not confined 
to financial matters, so many other parents who were active 
in other respects were also most helpful in giving or raising 
needed funds. The school demonstrated that parents' interest 
in their own children is capable of being carried over to the 
school, so that school and home mutually extend each other. 
This interest also expressed itself in published statements by 
a number of parents. Extracts from two follow: 

1 The Parents' Association of the Laboratory School differed from 
most other parents* associations in that the incentive for its organiza- 
tion as well as its development came almost entirely from the parents. 
. . . During the first year of the school this group was occasionally 
invited to come together to discuss subjects related to the home and 
the school and at the beginning of the second year felt the need of 
formally organizing. The income from the tuition of such a school 
was, naturally, far below the cost of maintaining it; there was need 
for the parents from the start to band themselves together for the 
support of the school which they so much desired for their children. 
Outside of this financial need, the main object of the association 
was an educational one, as its early name indicates, The Elementary 
Education Club. 

In such a school, where many of the ideas and methods were 
radically opposed to the old and familiar ones, the parents especially 
felt the need of becoming correctly acquainted with these ideas, of 
knowing the why and wherefore for each change, so as not only to 
keep in touch with the work of their own children, but to be able 
to correct misconceptions formed in regard to the school by the out- 
side world. As a by-law itself stated: "The objects of this association 
are to promote in general the interests of elementary education by 
discussing theories and their practical applications, and especially 

i Nellie Johnson O'Connor, "The Educational Side of the Parents' As- 
sociation of the Laboratory School/' The Elementary School Teacher, Vol. 
4, No. 7, pp. 532-535- 


to confer and cooperate in advancing the work of the Laboratory 
School of the University of Chicago." 

Organized by the parents, and supported and maintained by the 
parents, it was truly a parents' association. . . . The program for 
the meetings was arranged by the executive committee, composed of 
the officers and the chairmen of die different committees. The sub* 
jects were presented either by outside specialists, whose opinions 
would be of especial value, by the teacher or teachers of the study 
under discussion, or by the parents themselves from the parents' 
point of view. 

Such a conference of parents and teachers for free discussion of 
methods and results was felt to be indispensable to the best work- 
ing out of an educational system, and such conferences were the 
meetings of the Parents* Association of the Laboratory School- 
conferences for the discussion of educational problems in which 
the parents were individually interested. . . . 2 

In a word, the parents sought to know what the school was doing 
and why it was doing it. As the meetings of the association were held 
but once a month, to make the work more effective and intimate, 
one of the standing committees was an educational one. This com- 
mittee was to direct the educational interests of the association, 
particularly in the study of the educational principles of the school 
and of the ways in which the association could assist in carrying 
them out. To this committee the parents came with their criticisms 
and suggestions, and the committee, in quiet consultations with the 
teachers, was often able to correct a bad habit unconsciously formed 
in a teacher or, by revealing a teacher's plan to the parent, remove 
his objections and reconcile him to the particular method in ques- 

Thus, from such counsels need was felt that the parents must in 
some way become better acquainted with the real purposes of the 
school. Through the great kindness of Mr. Dewey, Mrs. Young, and 
Mr. Tufts, for three consecutive years a class was formed, open to all 
members of the association, in which the principles of the school 
were taught. Opportunity was given in the discussions at the close 
of the class for the asking and answering of questions. 

The main value, then, of the educational work of this Parents' 
Association was to educate the parent in the principles of the school. 
This brought him necessarily into closer touch and, above all, re- 
sulted in a greater sympathy between parents and teachers. It be- 

2 The subjects of some of these discussions were "The Question of Read- 
ing," "Why Children Should or Should Not Learn to Read at an Early Age," 
"Some Problems in Modern Education," "The Physical Life of the Child," 
"The Purpose of Outdoor Excursions," "How to Simplify the Lives of the 
Children," "The Value of the Study of Literature/' 


came possible to bring the school life of the child into the home 
and the home life into the school, so that the two could be welded 
into a compact and unified whole. 

In an article on "The Social Needs of Children," another 
parent analyzed the social life of the home and school and out- 
lined the suggested program of the Home Committee of the 
Parents' Association of the School of Education which was to 
be organized later. 3 

What is meant by a child's social needs? It is his need to learn to 
cooperate with others, in work and in play, in a manner best fitted 
for his and his associates' highest development. In these days of so- 
cial unrest and failure to recognize one's obligation to his neighbor, 
we all agree that there can be no part of a child's education that 
is more important. These social needs should be recognized in the 
school and in the home, and it would be logical and natural to 
add hi the church. But for the purposes of this paper the school 
and the home centers only will be considered. Social organization 
takes place naturally when there is something to do. In the words 
of one of the leading educators, "when occupations are made the 
articulating centers" of home life and of school life, the social 
nature of the child grows and expands. Some educators are telling 
us how this can be accomplished in schools. The school is not a 
place for the acquisition of knowledge only. It is where the social 
instinct is recognized, while all of the powers of the body, mind, and 
soul are unfolding and developing under wise guidance. In order to 
fully accomplish this, the life of the school and the home must 
supplement each other. Were the schools social centers, our parents 
and teachers would meet on common ground for the furtherance of 
a better social spirit among all sorts and conditions of children. . . . 

This group of parents were strenuous in their efforts to infuse 
into the little community which grew about this school simplicity in 
thought and action, and knowledge of its methods, and I think we 
were rewarded by seeing our boys and girls reach the ages of sixteen 
and seventeen, natural and wholesome. But we did not have our 
own children only in mind. We hoped that the learning of a 
university, its rare pedagogical insight, combined with the earnest 
watchfulness and experience of the teachers and parents, might 
throw light upon what the social life of children of all communities, 
and especially of less favored communities, should be. We hoped 
that all children might be helped to the rich inheritance of what 
should be theirs, by the perfect growth of all their powers. 

sHattie Hover Harding, The Elementary School Teacher, December 



The parents of the children, as well as others, were in close 
cooperation with the teachers and administrators in the 
school, all recognizing that "there cannot be two sets of ethical 
principles, or two forms of ethical theory, one for life in the 
school, and the other for life outside the school. As all conduct 
is one, the principles of conduct are also one." 4 

Holding this common intellectual viewpoint, all were 
united in a common purpose to make the setting and condi- 
tions such as to help the child develop the right "how of con- 
duct," whether at school or at home, by showing him the right 
"what of conduct." Thus the two-faced quality of ethical 
theory was made clear to the child, and psychological and so- 
cial ethics entered into the practice of die school life, as much, 
if not more, than into the home life of the children, and in so 
doing unified them. 


There is little more that can be said of the third and most 
important group of cooperating human factors in this enter- 
prise, the pupils of the school. The main purpose of the ex- 
periment was to win them to and guide them into joint 
undertakings. How far this was successful may be judged from 
the practices of the school already related. 

At the close of the school in 1903, most of the oldest class 
had been under its care from the beginning seven and one half 
years. During the last two and a half years (1901 to 1903) 
biology, physiography, algebra, and geometry, and a year of 
what might be called preparatory Latin were included in the 
program. Their school experience with subject-matter through- 
out had been of a widely varied nature. Their teachers were 
trained experts in the various sciences, in mathematics, in the 
languages, and in the industrial and artistic activities. These 
teachers had been chosen because of a background of life ex- 
perience which had bred in them attitudes of adaptability, 
open-mindedness, honesty, fresh enthusiasm, and above all re- 

*John Dewey, "Ethical Principles Underlying Education," The Third 
Yearbook of the National Herbart Society, 1897. 


spect for the growing personality of a child and his need of 
freedom, under guidance, to exercise his developing powers. 

In consequence of these attitudes on the part of the teachers, 
there seems to have been an unusual response in the children, 
like that of plants to air and sunshine, a response frank, free, 
and urgent with the driving force of original desire. As ex- 
pressed in recent letters from one of the teachers, 5 the result 
was "a home-like atmosphere in which the children worked. 
Not that the school-room suggested a home, but the spirit of 
physical and mental freedom between the children and their 
surroundings (in which the teacher was only distinguishable 
by her size) made a really living atmosphere/' 

The children were actors in the scenes of the constantly 
shifting, on-going, self-planned drama of their daily action. 
The teachers provided the setting and properties and were 
the stage directors. A faculty visitor writes of a memory of 
one of frequent visits to the school: 6 

It was a glimpse of a class in geography or was it science? 
that I most clearly remember. I recall that the little children in the 
class were engaged in no less a social occupation than that of im- 
personating the solar system or at least the sun, earth, moon, and 
maybe a planet or two for good measure. They took their positions 
on the floor and revolved about one another in true planetary style, 
yet with childlike zeal and informality. This is but a snap-shot, a 
mere random cross-section, but it seemed to me to typify both the 
simplicity and the audacity of the school's pedagogy. . . . 

One of the pupils in the school, now well known in the 
field of psychological research, also bears witness to the effect 
of his schooling: 7 

"There is not the least doubt in my mind that the work in 
research, which has become my profession as a psychological investi- 
gator, had its origin in the ideas and methods gained in the Dewey 

As a result of this guarding and direction of their freedom, 
the children retained the power of initiative naturally present 

c Katherine Andrews. 
eWillard C. Gore. 

7 Johnson O'Connor, Director of the Human Engineering Laboratories of 
Stevens Institute, Hoboken, N. J. 


in young children through their inquisitive interests. This spirit 
of inquiry was given plenty of opportunity and developed with 
most of the children into the habit of trying a thing out for 
themselves. Thus they gradually became familiar with, and to 
varying degrees skilled in, the use of the experimental method 
to solve problems in all areas of their experience. 8 

A reminiscence of one of the science teachers illustrates 
how truly the educational process in the school was an ex- 
perimental one and was actually participated in by the chil- 
dren themselves. 9 

I think the children did get the scientific attitude of mind. They 
found out things for themselves. They worked out the simplest 
problems that may have involved a most commonplace and every- 
day fact in the manner that a really scientific investigator goes to- 
work. Do you remember the disgust of the head of the University 

Department that the children spent two laboratory periods 

on a "trifle that they might have found out in a few minutes from 
a book?" 

So habituated were these children to the test and see for 
yourself attitude, that for the most part they had come quite 
naturally to look upon the experimental method as their 
best tool in time of need. The feeling that they had a way 
by which they could set about the solution of any problem 
gave them self-confidence. This ability to state their problem, 
gather the data about it from all possible sources, and after 
deliberation on these data, decide upon an experimental 
course of action, established a sense of security in a power 
within themselves and in their knowledge of the availability 
of outside resources. 10 They had learned by themselves doing 

s A girl in the oldest dass began college work in physics at the University 
of Wisconsin. She was asked by her instructor where she had had her 
preparation; he added, "I am interested to know because you are the only 
one in the class who seems to know what an experiment is." 

9 Katherine Andrews. 

10 A mother who had been most critical as to the effects of the school on 
two of her children acknowledged many years later that, when comparing 
the two children who had had the school experience with those who had 
not, she believed "the markedly greater ability of the first two to meet 
new situations and to attack problems was due to their early experience 
in this school." 


what man has done and had won through to a philosophy of 
confidence. In consequence, these children were quite un- 
afraid in new situations, and their later work in college or 
university was of such outstanding character as to place them 
immediately in the front rank of their group. 

There were few backward or difficult children, mainly be- 
cause the activities of the school were so varied that many 
types of personality found freedom for expression. Interest 
and effort went so often hand in hand that there was no reason 
to be at odds with one's neighbors or at cross purposes with 
the teacher. There were some cases of difficult adjustment, 
particularly where a child came into this school from one of 
the public schools. Such a child was frequently at a loss to 
know how to proceed, lacking as he was in power to initiate 
or direct his own work. The help given such individuals was 
strictly incidental to the specific block or problem. It can be 
said with truth that difficulties in the adolescent period were 
very few, owing probably to the fact that the earlier experi- 
ences of these children had been full, free, and satisfying. 
They had the frank attitude of unthwarted, uninhibited, freely 
acting persons. 


There were also children, who had not had the whole 
course of the school, who at its close had a hard time read- 
justing themselves to the system of the public or other schools. 
One of these pupils when recently asked if he had any remem- 
brance of being a member of the experimental group, espe- 
cially in regard to his experience in learning to read and spell, 
answered: 11 

"I never learned to spell I do not know how to spell now, I have 
no sense of spelling. Of my group some were spellers and some 
were not. I had two sisters and a brother in the sdbtool. My brother 
and one sister learned to spell; the other sister and I did not. My 
brother was of the book type and began to read early. I was of the 
shop type and was not interested in books. I did not feel the need 
of reading or writing and hence no desire to learn to spell. There 

11 Paul McClintodk, 1930. 


would have come a time when I would have wanted to write up 
what I had found out and what I was doing in the shop. Then I 
would have learned to spell. But the school as an experiment 
stopped just before we non-book people came to the point where 
we wanted to write or read. This was bad for the experiment and 
was very bad for us. ... 

I don't remember any studying or learning of anything. I don't 
remember going through the process of learning to read, but I read. 
However, I never read a book of my own free will until I reached 
the second year in high school. 

I am a firm believer in Dr. Dewey's theory of education, and I be- 
lieve the university will come to be on much the same basis within 
the next ten years, though it will approach the problem from the 
more practical standpoint rather than the theoretical. And this, 
because our present system of education is a failure. 

Handicapped by her lack of hearing, one of the pupils of 
the school characterizes the influence of the school upon her 
later experience as follows: 12 

First as to the Sciences, no matter how young we were too young 
to understand very much we were given a chance to use our eyes, 
to observe facts of nature more closely. Modern customs have been 
shutting us off too much to satisfy childhood's curiosity. Hence the 
science not only helped us to understand life better; it also helped 
us to learn to see, trained our eyes to observe, and thus used and 
developed our minds. 

Secondly the activities carpentry, cooking, weaving, sewing, art 
all trained our hands and fingers to be useful. Such skills are valu- 
able not only for the sake of economy and usefulness; they are 
restful to the nerves. People have often asked me where I learned lo- 
use my hands, and how it is I so easily learn to do new things with 
my hands. I tell them it is because I was trained to use my mind 
and hands and eyes together. I was trained to observe and given a 
chance to use what I observed in what I did. 

Third, the building of the club-house the real and practical 
work helped us to see what architecture really is. We got far more 
out of that than out of books. 

Fourth, I learned responsibility. When I was quite young, I was 
asked to teach art for two months to a younger class. The experi- 
ence of learning how to take this responsibility was very good. 
When I went into the room for the first time I had to realize that 
I must do something! I learned how to teach that way, and this 
is responsibility finally realized. 

12 Josephine Crane, 1930. 


Hence, in the school we got firm foundations for life in every 
branch of usefulness. We learned to use our hands, our eyes, our 
heads and to accept responsibility. This is realizing fundamentals. 
These are very pleasant and precious memories, and I am more 
than grateful to John Dewey and his ideas. 

Some of the alumni of the school, for the most part those 
who had been pupils in the school from its start, happened 
to meet recently at a social gathering in Chicago. After com- 
paring notes about themselves and their observations of 
others of the old school group, they agreed that the outstand- 
ing characteristics of all Dewey School pupils, then and since, 
were adaptability and initiative in meeting life's situations. 
One of this group enlarged her memories and comments as 
follows: 1S 

When I was a little girl, I had the rarest of educational experi- 
ences. I went to the John Dewey School in Chicago, "The Univer- 
sity of Chicago Laboratory School." The school occupied a large 
city lot covered with a sparse and tawny grass, worn bare in spots 
by the running back and forth of many, busy, happy feet. The 
lot was cut across diagonally by a gray, dusty path leading to the 
school-house. That brown house with its good-sized veranda and 
passageway to the gym and shop held for the children a living 
world. There were no inhibitory moments of fear ,or self- 
consciousess before the teacher, other children, or visitors. We were 
a large family, anxious to put forth our kindest manners, happy to 
help the child who was slower to grasp the problem at hand, know- 
ing that when we needed help it would be as gladly given. A most 
remarkable spirit of normal cooperation existed, the kindliest tol- 
erance, an inspiring pride in work and play. There every child felt 
as much released, as happy and as unself -consciously contented and 
at ease as in his own home. Probably more so. This was a victorious 
educational premise. 

It is difficult for me to be restrained about the character building 
results of the Dewey School. As the years have passed and as I have 
watched the lives of many Dewey School children, I have always 
been astonished at the ease which fits them into all sorts and con- 
ditions of emergencies. They do not vacillate and flounder under 
unstable emotions; they go ahead and work out the problem in 
hand, guided by their positively formed working habits. Discour- 
agement to them is non-existent, almost ad absurdum. For that very 
fact, accomplishment in daily living is inevitable. Whoever has been 

is Helen Greeley. 


given the working pattern of tackling problems has a courage born 
of self-confidence and achieves. 

The Dewey School gave us the opportunity to form practical, 
livable behavior patterns. As I consider in contrast the average 
students passing out of school into social and economic conditions, 
we were armed for the battle, they are maimed. . . . 

To learn that, through occupation, or more simply, through work, 
one experienced happiness, to own that point of view as a daily 
habit is perhaps the greatest gift bestowed. To experience all sorts 
of things, not just to study them, is Mr. Dewey's plan of education. 
So our schooling was work in a workshop, and the habits we formed 
thereby were active habits. The discipline we learned was a practical 
way of living congenially with our neighbors. 

Now that I have children of my own and face the problem of 
preparing them for life, I find that my greatest aid in helping them 
is my Dewey School background. As a child I was understood by my 
teachers. So in bringing up my children I have an initial advantage. 
I know what it means to a child to be understood and to be guided 
from that premise. Instead of being forced into an adult imitation, 
I was definitely allowed to be a child. As a result, my childhood 
memories are not only vivid but alive. So, even at my age, thanks 
to my Dewey School experience, I find it possible to enter into 
my children's childhood life with them and influence them not 
merely through my point of view born of experience but through 
theirs too. 

Like a voice out of the past, the memories of his Dewey 
School days come to haunt the consciousness of a grown-up 
pupil of the school until he voices them in this sketch. 14 

A young American journalist, standing on one of the terraced 
heights of the ancient city of Genoa, was gazing out upon the 
wrinkled water of the crescent bay. Between the bay and the spectator 
rose the serried roofs of the shining city in a wide amphitheatre, 
broken here and there by terra-cotta domes and striped bell towers 
of a score of Roman churches lifting their insignia of spiritual 
dominion high above the sultry squares and tangled, kenneled 
streets, above even the red and white and green banners of the State, 
into the blue Italian sky. Far to the left and right stretched the 
olive-clad Ligurian mountains, in undulating horizons of grey and 
green, marking the alluring shore of the Riviera di Levante; em- 
bracing the blue Tyrrhenian Sea, they marched westward towards 
the tawny, theatrical cliffs of France, beyond San Remo and Ven- 

i* Brent Dow Allinson. 


tiniglia. Why should Columbus, as boy or man, of imagination all 
compact ever dream of leaving so delightful a scene? 

But was it so delightful to him with its mercenary feuds and 
political vendettas, continuing to this very day? . . . Suddenly, the 
young American, who was visiting Italy for the first time in his life 
became aware of a vague feeling of sympathy for the place, a dim 
impression that he must have experienced the scene before, that 
it was not wholly alien to him. But how, or when? He could not 
solve the mystery of sub-conscious memory Had he been in Italy 
and breathed its glamour, as lovers of the beauty that passes under- 
standing are so easily led to believe, in some previous incarnation? 

Twenty-five years before, in the atttic of a rambling, shingled 
dwelling house on an indifferent, fiat avenue in Philistine Chicago, 
a brown-eyed child of six or seven years sat cross-legged on the floor, 
confronting a vast expanse of taut canvas smelling of oil, paint, and 
the excitement of turpentine. A blue gingham apron was buttoned 
and pinned under his chin, and in his hand he held a long paint- 
brush, unmanageable as a chop-stick, dripping with Cobalt-blue 
paint. Burnt Orange, as someone had viciously nicknamed him, be- 
cause of an auburn glint in his hair, had been authorized to streak 
waves of blue water, bluer than he had ever believed existed, onto 
the canvas, by a tall, serene lady who always spoke in the kindest 
voice. She had shown him somehow the trick of making the water 
look real, of painting in short rippling strokes the watery shadows 
in the lee of caravels riding at anchor and the reflections of piles 
and a pier. Lost in those painted ships upon a painted ocean, the 
lad was entirely happy, if only the bell would not ring to summon 
him to some other class. He had to stand upon a chair to paint 
the masts on the three immortal ships the Nina, the Pinta, and the 
Santa Maria (what matters it, if they rode at anchor in Cadiz and 
not the bay of Genoa?) and to carry the green wavy line of the 
hills across the horizon and off the canvas, towards France. . . . 
The fumes of the turpentine and the glamour of the enterprise com- 
bined to stimulate the fresh imagination of the child, under a 
supervision that was no less tactful than experimental, and to con- 
vert the old attic into a halcyon grove. . . . He was learning by 
doing as the phrase went and perhaps still goes, pedagogically speak- 

Learning what? Learning the feel of artist's paint and canvas, but 
learning the feel of history also whether or not it is a legend that 
has been agreed upon and the tang of historical adventure. . . . 
He was painting, not just in order to paint, to cover space with 
meaningless color and lines, but painting with a purpose. He was 
helping to paint a back drop, a stage-scene, for a dramatized ver- 


sion of the story of Columbus. The story had been read and written 
and inwardly learned by the history and English groups of the 
school; it had been composed as a play by the joint efforts of a 
dozen or more children of different ages. It would be produced as 
a major school event, a project they would call it nowadays, after 
the stage and its footlights had been carpentered, the scenery painted 
for the different scenes, the costumes designed and fabricated in the 
manual training, the art, the textiles, and other groups. And the 
little girl who played Isabella, with her casket of jewels, to the 
curly-haired, brown-eyed, indigent, ambitious Columbus would be 
even more than a Queen of the May. . . . There would be coopera- 
tions, imaginings, inventions, responsibilities developed, as well as 
feelings implanted for the primitive constructive crafts and the 
articulate expressive arts; and who should say what memories would 
remain, or under what circumstances of after-life they would emerge 
in the stream of consciousness to make the unfamiliar world more 
familiar, and action less blind? 


Such memories show a rich background of experience, of 
daily and hourly meeting situations in which it was necessary 
for these children to make their own choices and reach their 
own conclusions as to future plans of action. Both as a group 
and as individuals, they had been trained to sense situations 
to look and to see, to listen and to hear; they had grown able 
to regard, to compare, and to refer, and such behavior had 
become more or less habitual. They, therefore, had early 
come to have their own definite tastes and standards which 
enabled them to judge, to evaluate, and to interpret with 
greater ease than is usually the case at the adolescent age. 

Their meaningful activities had given exercise to their wits. 
They had played and dug, hammered and cut, had fashioned 
things of their own planning, had painted and modeled, and 
had written, read, and sung much about all they had done. 
Because of this rich background they seemed more sensitive 
than most children to the quality and value of many different 
kinds of experience. Their imaginations were in consequence 
more alert, and they were able in their reading to seize upon 
and relate the veiled (to others not so experienced) meaning 
of the written symbols. The indirect experience of others, 


therefore, took on a semblance of reality and was integrated 
more completely into their own experience, thus deepening 
and enriching it. 

It seems a legitimate conclusion that there had come about 
a gradual widening of the area of the individual vision of these 
children through the growth in them of the understanding of 
people in relation to situations. They could size up the latter 
in relation to the former, and vice versa. There was a notice- 
able ability to include in this estimate a sympathy with what 
lay beyond their direct interest. They seemed to have vague 
inklings of the social as well as intellectual aspects of knowl- 
edge, and the latter had a vital value to them, proportionate 
to its contribution to the solution of their problems and to 
those of a larger world than their own. When these problems 
were real and genuine matters for adjustment, problems which 
interfered with and obstructed real and genuine purpose, the 
knowledge, the data, the idea, which was most relevant and 
helpful in the solution of these problems was also the knowl- 
edge which was most vital. 

In planning the scheme of the school's curriculum, those 
responsible tried to consider the choice of its activities from 
the point of view of the needs of its common life. It en- 
deavored, therefore, to place essentials first and refinements 
second. The things which are socially most fundamental, 
which had to do with the experience shared by most of those 
in the school and society in general, were regarded as the most 
essential; those which represented the needs of specialized 
groups and technical pursuits were of secondary importance. 

It was recognized as of the highest importance that the 
interest of children naturally attaches itself to the occupa- 
tions of local surroundings. But it must be fed. 15 "It must not 
be held down to recapitulating, cataloguing, and refining 
what is already known. When the familiar fences that mark 
the limits of the village proprietors are signs that introduce 
an understanding of the boundaries of great nations, even 
fences are lighted with meaning. Sunlight, air, running water, 

is John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York City, The Mac- 
millan Co., 1916), pp. 248-249. 


inequality of earth's surface, varied industries, civil officers 
and their duties all these things are found in the local en- 
vironment. Treated as if their meaning began and ended in 
those confines, they are curious facts to be laboriously learned. 
As instruments for extending the limits of experience, bring- 
ing within its scope peoples and things otherwise strange and 
unknown, they are transfigured by the use to which they are 
put. Sunlight, wind, stream, commerce, political relations 
come from afar and lead the thoughts afar into fields of ro- 
mance, of moral and esthetic beauty." 

In spite of its mistakes and failures, there seems to have 
been imbedded in the memories of all who shared in this 
school experience, students, teachers, parents, children, ad- 
ministrators, a sense of its reality, its relatedness to life, its 
continuity with the actual processes of life, and its unbroken 
growth into the larger and finer meanings of living. This has 
stood the test of time. In those who have written and talked 
of this experiment, there is the conviction that the facts and 
skills then learned were not just information and habits soon 
forgotten, but had been so used to further construction and 
expression of ideas or in developing social situations, that they 
had been assimilated and built into the fiber of both indi- 
vidual and group experience. 

What has seemed of importance to many was, in effect, a 
by-product of the things done, an attitude of confidence 
toward life. This sense of confidence and security seems to 
have had three main sources. First, it was a consciousness of 
power within the individual to meet emergent circumstance 
with planned though experimental action. Second, he was 
group-conscious; he appreciated the power and satisfaction of 
group thinking and concerted action. Third, he had a trust 
in the dynamic power and continuity of life, born out of a 
study of the history of the race, its inventions, its discoveries, 
its methods, and the meaning of these for the future. Belief 
that this meaning would lead on to new discoveries, new fields 
of creative effort, and hitherto unknown fields of action gave 
steadiness and purpose to many of this group to follow its 
gleam along untrodden paths. All felt they had had a share 


in a new sort of education and in the planting and nourish- 
ing of a seed that had dynamic life. 

It should be said in conclusion that while the greater bur- 
den of development fell upon the teachers, they almost with- 
out exception realized that whatever success attended their 
efforts was due largely to the backing, the inspiration given 
them, and the faith placed in them by the whole group under 
the leadership of Mr. Dewey. 




,N evaluating the significance of this experimental school 
in the educational situation of thirty years ago, and in its 
implications for the present, it is necessary to emphasize some 
of the ideas and principles that were basic to its philosophy of 
education, masterfully set forth in their entirety in Mr. Dewey's 
Democracy and Education. 


The approach of those guiding the experiment was bio- 
logical and functional: growth is the main characteristic of 
life at all levels. The controlling principle of growth, there- 
fore, became the guiding principle of the school's theory. It 
held that education is growth at all levels and results from 
intelligent action from the constant adjustment of an indi- 
vidual to his environment both physical and social as he uses 
or modifies it to supply his needs or those of his group. Further- 
more, normal growth is continuous. It goes on at one or more 
levels during the whole life span of the individual. 

A study of the mental development of early infancy was the 
key which unlocked the secret of this characteristic and con- 
trolling principle of development. Certain questions prompted 
this study. What is the organism through which mental growth 
takes place? What are the functioning factors within this or- 
ganism? How do they work together to produce growth? 
What unifies and coordinates them? Mr. Dewey describes a 
simple act, or coordination, as the psychical organism of 
growth within which three factors function in rhythmical, 


unified labor. These factors are sensory-stimulus, central con- 
nection or idea, and muscular-response. They function in a 
circuit to maintain, reinforce, and transform the act. Of these 
three, idea links the satisfaction of need with the motor-response 
to the sense-stimuli. Idea is the meaning of the act. It is its 
controlling factor. Habits are built out of many acts (such as 
constitute the habit of seeing or hearing) and become parts of 
larger coordinations, more complex acts. Something heard 
suggests what can be seen or touched, and the meaning of 
one act for another enters in. Intelligence thus constituted can 
control the original impulse, can interpret sense-stimuli, can 
reinforce or transform, and thus' direct the motor-response 
into a form of intelligent action. 1 The meaning of one act for 
the next is apparent. In a series of acts which constitutes an 
activity, there is a continuing transformation of the present in 
the light of the consequences and meaning of the past action. As 
a result, recasting of purpose follows; a new plan is set up; 
and decision to act again is made. This is intelligent action. 
From such action mental growth results. 

The inclusion of intelligence within activity avoids the 
separation from the total activity (thought, feeling, and action) 
of the thought-aspect of it as being merely mental. It also avoids 
the exclusive emphasis on overt activity at the expense of think- 
ing, for the chance of developing even overt activity lies in its 
increasing mental content, which gives both increased knowl- 
edge and skill. Otherwise, an increasing complexity of ex- 
ternal movement, acquired without mental counterpart, would 
amount to nothing more than a rushing around in a squirrel 
cage, a meaningless activity. 

2 "In contrast a meaningful activity is the definition of an 
idea which continues to direct that activity in new expres- 
sions. Such an activity is a genuine expression and at the same 
time a development of the self. The whole hypothesis about 
ideas, as definitely intellectual experiences, is that they arise, 

1 The path of an act can be thought of as part of an interlocking spiral, 
not a closed circle. This concept of Mr. Dewey's came to be known as the 
organic circuit concept. 

2 John Dewey, written for the authors. 


are clarified, and defined (developed) in the course of the 
activity they first guide and later provide the meaning of. 
Then this development of meaning or idea leads on to new 
expressions and constructions, and so on. This process con- 
stitutes human growth as far as that is something more than 
merely a physiological development." 

Every individual, whether child or adult, acts to reach a 
desired end. Every act involves choice in every situation where 
it is possible to choose a preference for one result of the 
action rather than another. Choice is made either on the basis 
of imitation and obedience to tradition, or on the basis of 
the individual's preference for the consequences which his 
own thought on end and means has clarified and previsioned. 
Action based on imitation or obedience is blind. A policy of 
action based on custom and tradition, rather than thought, is 
backward not forward looking. It has no insight into the 
present and hence no foresight for the future. The conception 
of the act as a unified trinity including sensory-stimulus, idea, 
and motor-response as factors functioning within it and em- 
phasizing the interpretative function of idea, became the 
working principle by which the educative worth of any ex- 
perience might be analyzed and tested, and genuine choices 
made. It was also the basis of Mr. Dewey's psychological 
analysis of what constitutes a moral act, moral conduct, and 
character, for he early pointed out and has steadily maintained 
the identity of so-called moral education, as well as every other 
customary division of education, with growth that results from 
intelligent action. The kernel of his principle is this: the moral 
act is the consciously completed act which expresses the unified 
self. He pictures the important steps in the psychological pro- 
cess whereby all three factors within the act feeling, thinking, 
and muscular-responsecome to the cooperative functioning 
that expresses a unified self. The first phase of the action is im- 
pulsive. But when the impulsive act meets resistance, it di- 
vides into contrary and competing tendencies. Out of this con- 
flict are born ideas using symbols to represent possible acts. 
These serve to give meaning to impulses and thus to redirect 
action. That is, each conflicting line of action is represented by 


an idea which through communication by symbols expresses an 
act as a possibility rather than a fact. The interplay of these al- 
ternative ideas is deliberation. Thought is thus a substitute for 
overt conflict in action. Through the balancing of ideas their 
harmonious cooperation is brought about. This unification is 
what we know as choice and decision. It marks the forming of 
a self which is more consciously integrated than was the im- 
pulsive self or body of organic tendencies out of which it grew. 

The conflict of impulsive tendencies is also a state of emo- 
tional disturbance. As the ideas move toward a unified pur- 
pose, so the emotions directed by ideas or meaning tend 
toward a unified desire or affection and finally become a 
definite interest. The original impulse to act blindly has be- 
come an intellectualized desire to act in accord with the new 
plan. The self of impulse and the self of deliberation coalesce 
and express themselves as a unity in an act. Intelligent action 
is thus the expression of the best thought and the deepest de- 
sire (or interest) of the whole self. This expression represents 
a unified person who acts as he both thinks and desires, whose 
intellectual ideal is backed and reinforced by his undivided 
interest. The acts of such a person are the result of his full 
attention and his whole-hearted effort. In other words, such 
acts represent genuine interests of the self and are, therefore, 
moral. They are the self in expression. 

When such cooperative action is not achieved by thought 
and will, the deed represents whichever self has proved the 
stronger and is, therefore, according to Mr. Dewey's theory, 
not a complete actone which represents the whole self. It is 
a partial act representing a divided self, where one self has 
achieved a victory over the other. Where the objective self 
(the thinking self) does not carry the subjective, the really in- 
terested self, along with it, but insists upon action without 
such agreement, the act represents only part of the self. The 
ideal has resulted in deed without the complete backing of 
the original impulse; full interest in the deed is lacking; and 
complete satisfaction therefore cannot result. Or, if the sub- 
jective, interested self rushes into ill-considered action, the 



agent is said to have acted against his better judgment. In 
either case, part of the self is unexpressed and is unsatisfied 
with what has been done. The deed represents a divided, a 
disintegrated self. Such a deed is not genuine, and therefore, 
according to the theory, it is not moral. 

3 "Identification of self in and through an on going process 
is feeling or emotion. Finding himself in an objective (one 
with meaning) is interest. Engrossment, absorption, wholeness 
of reaction is interest or emotion. When the thing and the act 
fit, there is intensity and completeness of response. This in- 
tensity of quality may be analytically separated out by the 
adult and called emotion. To the child it is a direct quality 
of the experience. It is killed or chilled by being made a sepa- 
rate thing as often in false artistic or aesthetic instruction." 

Such expression is a round of dynamic activity, always spiral 
in form because continually increased in meaning and height- 
ened satisfaction. The motives that are springs to action are 
the original impulses which have been indentified with pur- 
pose through the mediation of thought and communication 
through symbols and have become ideals. These ideals are not 
lugged in from without nor put over from above; they are home- 
made, for they are self-initiated, self-deliberated, self-evaluated, 
and self-chosen. They are central factors in moral growth. 

There is a further point of highest significance in this defini- 
tion of intelligent moral action. This is that possible social 
consequences following action must be foreseen and reckoned 
with. A moral act is thus seen to be a social one.* "In a moral 
act, the will, the idea, and the consequences are all placed in- 
side of the act, and the act itself only within the larger activity 
of the individual in society." Jrom this corollary to die theory's 
principle of growth it follows that mental and moral growth re- 
sults from intelligent action only when action is motivated by 
social concern and directed to social ends. 

s John Dewey, written for the authors. 

4 George H. Mead, John Dewey, The Man and His Philosophy, (Cam- 
bridge, Harvard University Press, 1930), p. 100. 



Among the psychological assumptions underlying the 
school's theory and guiding its practices were two quite differ- 
ent from those accepted by traditional education. The first of 
these was that the needs, powers, and interests of the grow- 
ing child are unlike those of maturity; but that, second, he 
utilizes the same general conditions as the adult in his in- 
tellectual and moral development. 

Like the adult, the growing child needs freedom to investigate 
and experiment. He thus makes the many contacts with persons 
and things that widen and deepen the range of his knowledge 
and experience. On the other hand, his abilities to think, to act 
intelligently, and to control himself are not yet formed as they 
are in the adult, but are forming, in response to their use in ac- 
tion and in the measure of such use. His interests are primarily 
in activity, using activity to include thinking as well as observ- 
ing through the use of the senses and muscular effort. His activ- 
ity is the expression of his ideas in ways that fit and knit to- 
gether satisfactorily the various phases of his experience and 
that make him one with it. He is in the process of learning 
how to act intelligently. 

In that process a child, like other growing organisms in 
coming to maturity, passes through various stages of growth. 
These are not sharply defined, but shade gradually from one 
to the other. Clues to the sort of experience that is most 
educative in these stages are to be found in the child's interests, 
attitudes and capacities. Recent research on physical growth 
in bodily development reveals characteristic accelerations and 
retardations associated with certain age periods. These may 
indicate possible causal connections with the social and psy- 
chological attitudes and interests which it was found in the 
Dewey School characterize these periods. For example, this 
research has found that the physical growth in the prepuberty 
period (about ten to fourteen years) is characterized by a rela- 
tively slow gain in height but a very rapid increase in mass or 
weight. A deduction is that this increase in mass involves cell 


increase in some organs of the body and cell organization in 
others including the brain among the latter. This period, 
then, is the one par excellence for. development in both physi- 
cal and psychical skills. As a result, indeed, of the Dewey 
School's experimentation from the educational point of view 
it was found that in these years there is great willingness on 
the part of the child to use drill and repetition because of the 
growing ability to see facility as a means to desirable ends, a 
fact now generally recognized and used. 

In these relatively rapid stages of the growth process, the 
child differs from the adult. Youth and adult are alike, how- 
ever, in that they use the same environmental conditions as the 
setting for their growth at all levels. For specific purposes these 
may need to be specialized, but broadly considered both child 
and adult deal with similar conditions. Both solve their prob- 
lems and reach their planned ends by: (i) selecting relevant 
materials and choosing their methods, (2) by adapting these 
materials and applying these methods, (3) by all the experi- 
menting and testing that accompanies this effort. 

5 "In traditional education, practically every one of these 
three conditions of increase in power for the adult is denied 
for the child. For him, problems and aims are determined by 
another mind. For him the material that is relevant or irrele- 
vant is selected in advance by another mind. And, upon the 
whole, there is such an attempt to teach him a ready-made 
method for applying his material to the solution of his prob- 
lems or the reaching of his ends, that the factor of experi- 
mentation is reduced to the minimum. With the adult we 
unquestioningly assume that an attitude of personal inquiry, 
based upon the possession of a problem that interests and 
absorbs, is a necessary precondition of mental growth. With 
the child we assume that the precondition is rather the will- 
ing disposition which makes him ready to submit to any 
problem and material presented from without. Alertness is 
our ideal in one case; docility in the other. With one we as- 
sume that power of attention develops in dealing with prob- 

John Dewey, Psychology and Social Practice (Chicago, University of Chi- 
cago Press), p. 13. 


lems which make a personal appeal, and through personal 
responsibility for determining what is relevant. With the 
other, we provide next to no opportunities for the evolution 
of problems out of immediate experience, and allow next to 
no free mental play for selecting, assorting, and adapting the 
experiences and ideas that make for their solution." 


As a result of the two years of experimentation in the 
Dewey School a principle evolved which was used as a basis 
for differentiation of the psychological levels of the various 
stages of growth and determined the choice of activities for 
each stage. Early childhood is impulsive; there is almost no 
pause between impulse and act and later between idea and 
action. With increasing maturity, however, as a result of trial 
and error and experimentation, a child becomes less forth- 
right in action, increasingly willing to stop and think about 
what it is he is going to do and how he is going to do it. In 
other words, he is beginning to see the difference between 
means and ends, the how of action in terms of the what of 
action, that the one is necessary to the other. This increasing 
span of interest, which makes a child willing to postpone ac- 
tion for longer and longer periods in order to perfect means 
to attain desired ends, determined the choice of activities in 
the school as to kind as well as length of plan. It was the test 
of maturity. By reference to chapters dealing with the various 
ages, the details observed and the plans used may be found. 
These most important issues of the Dewey School experiment 
are not yet used by the progressive schools as criteria, nor have 
they been supplemented by further experimentation reported 
to a consulting central body. 6 Successes are enjoyed; only a 
few are shared; and even here the psychological as well as the 
social conditioning is not clearly reported. The result is that 
schools are too often the theater for specific personality trends 

6 See John Dewey, "The Sources of a Science of Education," The Kappa 
Delta Pi Lecture Series (Horace Liveright, New York City). 


or interests and fail to contribute to a developing science o 

No experience is truly educative unless interest and effort 
go hand in hand toward a desired goal. An interest is a form 
of self-expressive activity which has an objective end (idea or 
object) in view. This has felt value, and its attainment gives 
satisfaction. In a young child action is direct and immediate. 
He is interested in play as play. There is no gap in the mind 
between means and end. Impulse and idea go immediately 
into action. The existing experience gives satisfaction. It has 
no end beyond itself. As the child grows in experience, he is 
able to see an act, a thing, or an idea, not by itself, but as 
part of a larger, perhaps coveted whole. This act may be a 
means of gaining the larger whole, and his interest expands 
to using this means to attain this end. He meets difficulty in 
using these means; this stimulates him to think more clearly 
and intensely of what it is he wants, and what he must do to 
get it. His end becomes not alone an object of desire; it is 
something worth working for. Interest, therefore, steadies and 
enlists effort and stimulates thoughtful action. Increasing 
willingness to delay action, to perfect means in order to arrive 
at larger ends, is indicative of increasing maturity. 

The school's continued experimentation with the subject- 
matter of the elementary curriculum proved that classroom 
results were best when activities were in accord with the 
child's changing interests, his growing consciousness of the 
relation of means and ends, and his increasing willingness to 
perfect means and to postpone satisfactions in order to arrive 
at better ends. This maturing ability to work for more and 
more meaningful ends showed itself at different ages in differ- 
ent kinds of activities. Children of eight years, at the end of 
a long course in experimental cooking, were able to make a 
general classification of foods, grouping those together which 
required the same or similar means of preparation by cook- 
ing. At eleven years, when their experience had included ex- 
periments in solution and osmosis and a physiological study 
of animals, these same children reclassified foods on the basis 
of their use to the body. 



The important question for those guiding this process of 
growth, and of promoting the alignment and cooperation of 
interest and effort, is this. What specific subject-matter or 
mode of skill has such a vital connection with the child's in- 
terest, existing powers, and capabilities as will extend the one 
and stimulate, exercise, and carry forward the others in a 
progressive course of action? The emotional accompaniment 
of such progressive growth of activity, of continual move- 
ment, of expansion, and of achievement, is happiness. Persons, 
whether children or adults, are interested in what they do 
successfully. They have a sense of confidence and accomplish- 
ment. Their absorbed interest means a happiness which is not 
self-conscious and is a sign of developing power. 

Without being conscious of the fact, a young child becomes 
like the other members of his group as he interacts in doing 
the same things along with them. He thus reflects in his own 
personality organization the patterns of the organized be- 
havior and relations of his group. His social self inevitably 
has those habits, those responses which every one else has; 
otherwise, he would not be a real member of the group. Each 
individual, however, has a different make-up and endowment, 
a unique point of view which places him in a unique relation- 
ship to the social process of the group. He, therefore, reflects 
the social attitudes and relations uniquely. In the process of 
interaction each child gradually becomes conscious of his 
active relations with others of the group. He recognizes their 
interests and attitudes and, at the same time, grows conscious 
of himself as a self that is a factor in these relations. He thus 
realizes others and .himself in a social situation in which they 
and he both take part. Growth, therefore, depends upon 
reciprocal relationships in a suitable environment. 

7 The child is a member of the community, but he is a particular 
part of the community with a particular heredity and position which 

* George H. Mead, Mind, Self and Society, edited by Charles W. Morris 
(Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago Press, 1934), p. 300. 


distinguishes him from anybody else. He is what he is in so far as 
he is a member of this community, and the raw materials out of 
which this particular individual is born would not be a self but for 
his relationships to others in the community of which he is a part. 
. . . Dissociations have centered attention on the self and have 
shown how absolutely fundamental is this social character of the 
mind. That which constitutes the personality lies in this sort of 
give and take between members in a group that engage in a coopera- 
tive process. It is this activity that has led to the humanly intelligent 

In this progressive process of self-realization, a growing 
child gradually becomes conscious of his impulses and. impell- 
ing ideas, his deep desires and purposes. He wakes up to what 
it is he really wants to do. There are occasional flashes of in- 
sight, like those of the laboratory worker, when he intuitively 
knows how to do what he wants to do or what he should 
choose, although he cannot explain why. This realization 
that he has both impulses to action and insights for action 
make him sensitive to similar processes in others. He also 
becomes conscious of resources outside of himself in the 
achievements of other persons, in values that already exist 
the values of the stored knowledge of the race, of customs and 
traditions. It was a fundamental principle of the school to 
await the dawning of these directive insights, to trust their 
arrival, and to provide the conditions that fos